By – Rajeev Jain :The growing population resource imbalances have forced humans to explore the newer avenues to meet their needs. In this connection, people have been looking for sea foods. India with a large area exposed to sea has equally huge potential to reap the benefits be it domestic needs or earning revenue from export.
Export of marine products plays a vital role in fisheries development in India by providing employment and income to millions engaged in fisheries, aquaculture, processing and allied activities. During the year 2006-07, India’s export of marine products valued at US$ 1853 million (Rs.8364 crore) saw considerable growth during the years 2003-04 to 2006-07. However, in the first 11 months of the year 2007-08 (April-February), export realization in dollar terms dropped by 1% compared to the exports during the same period of the previous year, but the unit value realization recorded a growth.
In terms of export earnings, Frozen Shrimp continued to be the largest export item (53% in Value), followed by Frozen Fish (17%), Cuttlefish (10%), Squid (6%), dried items (3%), etc.
Export growth to the European Union over the last four years is quite significant which accounts for 36% of the total export share alone. Japan is the second in ranking (16%), followed closely by USA (14%). The main market for Indian marine products is the European Union, the USA, Japan and China. During the year 2005-2006, the EU shared single largest market for our marine products with 27% in quantity terms. USA also showed 11.5% growth in quantity term. Export to Japan in volume term was 12% and for China in value term was 11.7%. The share of China was less due to export of low value items
Frozen Shrimp being the largest item of exports, amounted to Rs.4271.51 crore i.e. 59% of the total exports. Frozen Fish 36% of total exports, followed by ribbonfish, frozen squid and frozen cuttle fish.
The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) in its Vision Document for Indian Marine Products Export Industry has highlighted capture fisheries, culture fisheries, processing and value addition, quality management and marketing with due regard to conservation and sustainability issues. The focus areas identified are value addition, diversification in sustainable aquaculture, and exploitation of tuna resources. The vision of MPEDA is to increase the exports from the current level of 0.61 m. MT to at least 2 m. MT by 2017 and value of exports to increase to US$ 4 billion by the year 2012 and US$ 6 billion by 2017.
The following subsidy schemes have been implemented through MPEDA to encourage export of Marine products. Financial assistance for installation of fish finders, GPS, RT and installation of insulated / refrigerator fish hold, refrigerated sea water system and ice making machine on board mechanized fishing vessels. This scheme encourages mechanized fishing vessels owners’ to go for multi day fishing in off shore area, as also for better preservation of catch for export purpose. Financial assistance for conversion of existing fishing vessels to tuna long liners, which encourages the fishing vessels owners or harvesting deep sea tuna by diversified fishing using mono filament long line system.
In order to attract entrepreneurs to deep sea fishing for tuna, a new scheme has been introduced to provide interest subsidy assistance for the construction of new vessels of 5% up to Rs.10 lakh and Rs.15 lakh respectively for loans availed through authorized financing institutions.
Financial assistance for new farm development in undeveloped areas are given, this scheme would provide assistance to shrimp scampi farmers for setting up of new farms for augmenting production. Promotion of commercial hatcheries for seed production for exportable species has been launched to facilitate setting up of hatcheries for production of healthy and quality seed for aquaculture. Financial assistance to set up chill room facilities in shrimp farming area has been given. This is to help the farmers to market their produce in fresh condition for obtaining better prices. Financial assistance for purchase of waste quality testing equipment has been granted so as to help the farmers in better management of their farms. This scheme envisages extending financial assistance for purchase of quality testing equipment.
India Organic Aquaculture Project (IOPA) with technical assistance from the consultancy Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO), Switzerland has been approved recently. The intent of this Project is to promote organic aqua farming in the country in collaboration with SIPPO at the outlay of Rs.105 lakh.
INFOFISH Project on Development of tuna long lining using small boats has been floated. This INFOFISH Project was launched during the last year and MPEDA have been permitted to be an associate member of the project. The contribution of India for this project is US $ 23,400/-.
During the first year of the 11th Five Year Plan the Government has approved introduction of some new schemes to be implemented through MPEDA to boost export of marine products from India and also to provide assistance to the fish farmers / exporters / processors. Details of the schemes introduced are:
• Development of Scampi farming in Padasekharan, Kerala;
• Assistance for setting up 6 labs in AP with ELISA Equipment;
• Pilot Scale Project on setting up of Marine Ornamental Fish Breeding and Multiplication Centers;
• Aquaculture Nutrition and Health Management;
• New Project on Tilapia Hatchery and Grow out;
• Mud Crab Hatchery and Farming;
• Interest Subsidy assistance for the construction of New Tuna long liners and
• Sea Freight Subsidy Scheme
The Government has also accorded approval for setting up of a RGCA Foundation under MPEDA with the outlay of Rs.25 crore for research and development activity for the marine sector during the 11th Five Year Plan. This sector, if developed appropriately could make India one of the top exporters of marine products in the world.