AROOR: Seafood export industry is the most important one in Aroor. The industry which has an annual turnover of `2,000 crore, employs around 50,000 women from 5 panchayats including Aroor and Eramalloor. Each of these labourers earn an amount ranging from `350-900 daily. The industry depends mainly on the import of seafood from other states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, said V P Hameed, the state president of chamber of Kerala Seafood industry.
“We export mainly to European countries, China and Taiwan among others. Our processed prawns are popular in America and Japan. The other fish products are exported mainly to China and Vietnam. Last year, the total turnover from export amounted to `18,000 crore as compared to that of `13,500 crore the year before,” he said.
The main reason for the increase in turnover is the increase in production of a variety of prawn called vannamei, he told ‘Express’. “We don’t have provisions to farm vannamei in Kerala and so we have to depend on other states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa for the raw materials. Overuse of Yamaha engines in the sea is driving away the prawns. Deep sea fishing also contributes a lot to the decline in the prawn population. If production of vannamei can be increased in the state, there would be no need to import raw materials from other states,” he said.
Another issue which affects the seafood export industry is the lack of modernisation of the peeling sheds. “What the foreigners really like about the exports is the skill with which the peeling is done. If one kilogram of prawns is peeled here, at least half a kilo of meat will be obtained. In other areas, only 35 grams is obtained. Moreover, the peeling process is done very hygienically and good quality standards are maintained. MPEDA gives help to the exporters. They, however, do not adopt the necessary measures to subsidise the peeling sheds,” he said. “We subsidise only the integrated peeling sheds now, which include those peeling sheds which have a processing plant attached to them. We have stopped subsidising the independent peeling sheds owing to rampant malpractice there,” said MPEDA joint director KJ Antony in reply to the statement.
The lack of a proper power station in Aroor is also detrimental to business, he said. “There are more than 35 freezing plants here. A power station is a big necessity,” he said.