The fortnight old strike by fish meal industry for GST exemption is likely to put shrimp feed manufacturers in the doldrums.
As many as 56 fish meal industrial units spread across Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are on an indefinite strike since August 1 in protest against collecting GST from fish meal and related products.
Fish meal and related products used in the making of shrimp feeds were made taxable at five per cent during the initial GST notification but were shifted to the list of exempted items. However, the authorities brought out a new circular to collect taxes in retrospective effect from fish meal producing companies, said Davood Sait, national secretary of All India Fish Meal and Oil Manufacturers and Merchants Association.
Fish meal and other similar products such as flours, meals and pellets of fish are major ingredients for aquatic feed manufacturing. Fish meal is processed from fish, mainly fish varieties unfit for human consumption, excess left over after meeting human consumption requirements and also from offal’s from fish processing units, he said.
Ramakanth Akule, CEO, The Waterbase Ltd, Chennai, a leading manufacturer of shrimp feeds, told BusinessLine that fish meal is an important raw material for shrimp feed production. “Right now we have enough stock to meet the production requirements. There will be serious issues if the strike continues. We do not have any substitute and in the absence of this raw material, it is not possible to make nutritional food for shrimps”.
Mohan Krishna, General Manager (Operations), Devi Foods, pointed out that Indian shrimp feeds are now on par with quality products manufactured by Chili and Peru. Earlier farmers have to depend on imports for feeds that had led to a time delay of 6-8 months. But the commencement of domestic production has helped companies to get feeds on time.
According to Sait, the fish meal industry has not collected any amount from anyone at any point of transaction. The Rs. 1,750 crore industry with an annual production of 2.5 lakh tonnes provides a decent source of livelihood for thousands of jobless and uneducated people.