Concerted efforts to scale up shrimp production in India may soon set the cash registers ringing. According to international rating agency CRISIL, shrimp exports from India will nearly double to touch $7 billion by 2022.
Among the major reasons pointed out by the rating agency for a leap in exports are strong demand, high quality, improved product mix and an increase in aquaculture area in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal – even as its Asian rivals battle structural issues and rising domestic consumption.
Additionally, larger Indian exporters are expanding infrastructure to cater to increasing demand for value-added products from big global retail chains and restaurants. The rating agency foresees value-added exports also rising significantly from the current 15 per cent.
“It is a fact that production through aquaculture is thriving in many states with the support of governments there. With stock being available in abundant, exporters even started investing in such states to set up processing plants. The prediction by CRISIL is likely to become a reality in the coming years,” said Alex K Nain, president of the Kerala chapter of the Seafood Exporters Association of India.
“With marine fish landing in Kerala declining, exporters in the state are now sourcing shrimp from Andhra Pradesh. Stock sourced from Andhra accounts to 30 per cent of shrimp export from Kerala alone. This figure stands as the testimony for the thriving aquaculture in which Kerala lags much behind,” Ninan pointed out.
Shrimp export registered a steady growth in terms of quantity and value during 2010-15 to 2014-15, though there was a slight fall in value in 2015-16. India became the biggest exporter of shrimps in 2016, pipping Vietnam by just $100 million. A year on, the country racked up $3.8 billion exports even as Vietnam flatlined at $3 billion.
Since 2010, shrimp production in Asia has been severely affected by diseases, floods, labour issues, and tightening environmental norms. Production in Vietnam has declined by 40 per cent from peak levels because of the shortage of fresh water, salinity intrusion and illegal shrimp farming.
Thailand, which was once the top exporter, is now ranked 5th after a 65 per cent plunge in production from peak levels. And in 2016, China’s shrimp production nosedived by 60 per cent even as its consumption more than doubled, rendering it a marginal exporter. In addition, these countries also faced significant quality challenges.