Though Andhra Pradesh is marching ahead in fish and prawn production, it lags in food processing units in aquaculture and reaching the targets set by the government.In the first quarter of this financial year 2017-18, aquaculture registered a growth rate of 42 percent against the target set by 36 percent.
In terms of Gross Added Value (GAV), AP produced aqua products worth Rs12,957 crore in the first quarter of 2017-18 against the GAV of Rs9,119 crore in the first quarter of 2016-17. The government is measuring the production in terms of Gross Added Value. The State government set the target production of Rs12,447 crore in the first quarter. But, the production surpassed the target and reached Rs12,957 crore.
On the other hand, the State is lagged far behind in setting up food processing units. The State has less than 80 aqua processing units and these units should be increased, pointed out T V Ramana, Dean, Faculty of Fish Science, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati.
Speaking at the three-day Aqua Biz, aqua exhibition at the Swarajya Maidan on Saturday, he said processed sea food was very easy to cook and save time for womenfolk besides generating employment and preventing wastage of food.
He said most entrepreneurs are concentrating on export of high quality prawn and fish to other states neglecting the local market and setting up more processing plants.
He said Rs10 lakh is sufficient to set up aqua or fish processing unit but entrepreneurs are not coming forward to set up units’ due to lack of interest. Though the state was making rapid progress in fish and prawn cultivation, it failed to make significant strides in processing industry, he said.
Stating that the processed fish or prawn has huge demand in national and international market,he informed that prawns cultivated in 80,000 hectares and fish grown in 85,000 hectares but very less quantity is being processed.
He said nearly 20 research academies, colleges, universities and institutions are striving hard to develop aquaculture with the support of State and Centre.
Andhra Chamber of Commerce and Industry Federation (ACCIF) former general secretary Potluri Bhaskara Rao said East Asian countries like Vietnam and Taiwan are far ahead than India in prawn and fish processing units with more than 70 percent production whereas Indian states are lagged far behind with less than 10 percent food is being processed.
He said people are gradually changing food habits and slowly getting habituated to use of processed food. He felt the government should give more incentives to promote prawn and fish processing units in the state.
In cities like Vijayawada, processed fish and prawn is available in supermarkets and big shopping malls, which are commonly visited by rich and upper middle class.
B Chamundeswari Devi, Principal of Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University, Kakinada, stressed the importance of setting up more processing units.She said more attention is being paid to cut down cost of production and increase the output.Earlier, Marketing Minister Ch Adinarayana Reddy and Water Resources Development Minister DevineniUmamaheswara Rao visited the Aqua Biz and spoke to the fish growers and traders, who set up stalls.