shrimp has attained pole position in India''s marine
exports. The commerce ministry is backing the tuna to
pull it down a notch or two.
seafood exports have risen by $500 million in the last
four years, a growth scaled in the previous 10 years
at a little under $2 billion, which is a fraction of
India''s total exports of $125 billion.
seafood exports are hugely job generating, employing
about three million people. About 55 per cent of those
exports are of shrimp alone, which has the commerce
"First and foremost is taking steps to reduce dependence
on shrimp," says Jairam Ramesh, minister of state
and commerce. "We are starting a major initiative
located in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, for promotion
of tuna". The other initiative is to increase value
addition, currently at a measly 15 per cent. An effort
is also on to increase the size of seafood exports.
that to happen, more shrimp will have to be exported,
but disease stands in the way. So the Andamans will
be declared a bio-safety zone for rearing of pathogen-free
root stock or mother shrimp. And as Europe, India''s
largest buyer of seafood, turns increasingly finicky
about health, India will turn organic too, beginning
with India''s southern most state.
goal is to make Kerala totally organic in the next five
years," adds Ramesh.
The interesting aspect about seafood exports is the
revival of the Japanese market and the emergence of
China as a big buyer. Indian seafood exporters have
a lot of spare capacity. One idea is
to process imported fish for exports but the move has
been stalled by a fear that it will find its way to
the domestic market and eat into the livelihood of local
fisherfolk. So it is a toss up between shrimp and tuna.