Vannamei shrimp may enter farms soon

Vannamei shrimp may enter farms soon

26 April 2008

By K.P.M. Basheer

To counter threat to Indian export
Union Ministry of Agriculture may issue notification soon
Trial farming in Andhra Pradesh reported positive results

KOCHI: Farming of the South American vannamei shrimp, which is cheaper to breed and which is claimed to be resistant to many common fish diseases, is likely to be allowed in India shortly.

This is to counter the Chinese threat to Indian export of black tiger and other shrimp varieties which are more expensive than Chinese shrimps on the international market. China, the leading producer of vannamei shrimp, has in the recent years dumped the vannamei in the United States and Japan, the two largest shrimp consumers in the world. The Chinese vannamei is sold almost at two-thirds of the price of Indian shrimps. This has dulled the price of Indian exports and shrunken the market.

Anvar Hashim, president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India, told The Hindu that the association had received information that the Union Ministry of Agriculture had completed all the formalities for allowing vannamei breeding and that a notification would be issued soon. However, G. Mohan Kumar, chairman of the Marine Products Exports Development Agency (MPEDA), said he was not aware of a final decision yet, though the formalities were at an advanced stage.

Government cautious

Seafood exporters had asked the government to allow Indian fish farmers to grow the vannamei so that the exporters could successfully compete with Chinese, Mexican and Thai shrimps as the vannamei could be grown cheap and hence sold cheap too. However, the government has been extremely cautious because of the fear that the new variety might bring in new viruses and diseases too. In mid-1990s, the white-spot virus attack had devastated the shrimp sector.

The Ministry of Agriculture, which administers fisheries, asked the Exotic Species Committee to study the implications of letting in the vannamei. A two-year trial farming was carried out in two farms in Andhra Pradesh and it reported positive results. It is based on these results as well as other scientific inputs that the Ministry has now decided in principle to allow wider farming. Aquaculture is practised on a large, commercial scale in the East Coast.

Fishworkers’ Union leader Charles George said fishermen and fish farmers were not against introducing the vannamei into the farms as long as it was not against the Indian ecology and economy. “We welcome innovations and experiments, but they should add to strengthening the fisheries sector.” New marketing strategies should be adopted to survive in the international seafood market, he suggested.

Source: The Hindu