The Indian aquaculture shrimp production may rise as farmers are looking forward to the next harvest with a slight improvement in prices.
Discouraged by the lower prices and diseases, the stocking of shrimp larvae in the farms was lower by almost 30% for the first harvest which got over by July, late by a month. Shrimps account for 70% of the seafood exported from the country worth over Rs 45,000 crore.
“With improvement in prices, farmers have started stocking for a second harvest. Shrimp prices have improved 5 to 10% globally,’’ said S Muthukaruppan, former president of the Society of Aquaculture Professionals.
Plunge in shrimp prices in the second half saw a poor second harvest in 2018. Low prices resulted in delay in stocking for the harvest this year. India had produced around 6 to 6.5 lakh tonnes of shrimps last year.
Diseases such as white spot and EHP have been occurring in the farms for the past few years. “Since prices were robust till last year, farmers managed to do several harvests during the year despite the prevalence of the diseases. But when prices dropped, they lost money and went slow on stocking,’’ said V Balasubramaniam, general secretary of Prawn Farmers Federation of India.
The US and South East Asia, particularly China, are the major buyers of Indian seafood. According to the exporters, the demand from the US that dropped around the beginning of 2019 is looking steady now.
The recent free trade agreement Vietnam made with European Union is expected to impact India’s shipments. India’s seafood export to the EU had dropped to around 15% with the latter tightening the quality norms with 50% sampling. “The recent agreement will affect not just shrimp export but also the shipments of squid and cuttle fish too,’’ said an exporter on the condition of anonymity.
He said overall it could be a challenging year with floods affecting farms in several maritime states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
The industry fears whether the price increase will be sustained. As per Globefish, the FAO information and analysis wing of fisheries and aquaculture, the global supply level of shrimp in 2019 will be similar to that of 2018, at 4 million tonnes and hence prices may not improve by much.