Union minister of commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced a raft of measures, including setting up of agencies for aquaculture and fisheries in all coastal states and export incentives for marine products under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), to give a further boost to a buoyant seafood industry.
Speaking at the 20th edition of the three-day India International Seafood Show (IISS) in Visakhapatnam, Sitaraman said her ministry will soon be setting up state specific agencies for the promotion of exports in aquaculture and fisheries sectors in all coastal states.
She said the agencies for aquaculture and fisheries will be under the guidance of the chief ministers and headed by the respective state chief secretaries, under the guidance of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
The nodal body for marine exports, MPEDA, which is under the union commerce and industry ministry, meanwhile, expects a major revival in the fisheries sector.
Extension of benefits under Merchandise Exports Scheme will give a further boost to marine products from the country.
Under the MEIS, the government currently allocates Rs22,000 crore annually for exports. ''From this financial year onwards, an additional Rs1,500 crore will be allocated under the scheme that will include certain marine and seafood items,'' Sitharaman said.
The agencies for aquaculture and fisheries, under the guidance of the chief ministers and headed by their chief secretaries, will be under the aegis of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), the nodal body for marine exports under the union commerce and industry ministry.
However, she said that despite being a major producer, India's seafood industry has a long way to go in fully tapping the potential for value addition. ''I held discussions with trade ministers from Japan and South Korea recently and they have expressed interest in collaborating with India for development of aquaculture,'' she added.
Sitharman hoped that the MPEDA would play a key role in bringing in the best industry practices from around the globe to accelerate the growth of seafood industry.
Expressing his government's determination to make Andhra Pradesh the 'Aquaculture Hub' not only of India but also of the world, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said the state accounted for over 45 per cent of India's cultured shrimp exports during 2015-16. ''We expect to touch a target of 70 per cent over the next few years,'' he added.
Stressing the need for controlling diseases in farmed shrimps, Naidu said his government has set up a task force to set up state of the art laboratories in this regard.
The IISS, with 'Safe and Sustainable Indian Aquaculture' as the central theme of the event, has been organised jointly by MPEDA, under the ministry of commerce and industry, and Seafood Exporters' Association of India (SEAI), with Export Inspection Council (EIC) as its knowledge partner.
In his introductory remarks, A Jayathilak, chairman, MPEDA, said India's seafood industry, which witnessed a dip of 10 per cent last year has now shown an increase of 10 per cent this year, despite a global recession.
The MPEDA has set a marine product export target of $5.6 billion in 2016-17, an increase of nearly 20 per cent. "We expect a sea change by the year 2020 by which we expect exports to touch $10 billion, "he said.