Wednesday, February 20, 2019


At India International Seafood Show, Switzerland’s COOP & MPEDA tie up
Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The 21st essay of the biennial India International Seafood Show (IISS), a three-day event which opened in Margao, Goa, recently and was attended by stakeholders from across the Indian seafood industry, witnessed a first-of-its-kind tie-up in India’s marine sector between COOP Cooperative, one of Switzerland’s biggest retail and wholesale companies, and the Government of India’s Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) to develop export-oriented organic aqua farming in India to cater to the growing demand for organic seafood products across the EU. Suresh Prabhu, minister of commerce and industry, Government of India, was present at the event, and stated that the government will prepare a comprehensive roadmap to double seafood exports in India.

Stakeholders from across the Indian seafood industry voiced their optimism about marine product exports achieving target of Rs 50,000 crore, which is a milestone, in the next few years, given the current growth curve and strides made in aquaculture production.

Inaugurating the three-day flagship trade event organised by MPEDA and Seafood Export Association of India (SEAI), Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar said that while the east coast, especially Andhra Pradesh, was leaping ahead in culture fisheries, the fishing communities along the west coast can, in coordination with organisations like MPEDA, enhance their contribution to exports.

“India should also do more to make use of the fishing potential along the underutilised but large Andaman and Nicobar coastline, explore sustainable deep sea fishing and address issues such as seawater pollution from chemical fertiliser wash-off, overexploitation of existing fishing zones and damage to breeding grounds,” he added.

“India has the potential to become a seafood superpower and the goal of 20 per cent growth or doubling of the export volumes will not be as difficult if we tap into this potential fully,” Parrikar said.

IISS, which returned to Goa after 15 years, drew over 3,000 delegates and over 2,000 domestic and international visitors over the three-day period, generating business and showcasing products, automation technologies and machinery, as India continues to ride a crest of growth in seafood exports.

In 2016-17, India exported 11,34,948 metric tonne (MT) of seafood, principally frozen shrimp and frozen fish, worth Rs 37,870.90 crore and the provisional export figures for the period between April and November 2017 have shown an increase of 18.72 per cent and 15.16 per cent, respectively, in quantity and value (in $) of seafood exports.

“The export earnings are expected to cross a high of $6 billion during the current fiscal, buoyed by aquaculture growth, enhanced processing capacity and favourable market conditions,” said A Jayathilak chairman, MPEDA.

“If we are able to sustain our efforts in production and augment the efforts to value add, India can become the second largest exporter of seafood after China within a few years, surpassing countries like Norway, Vietnam, the United States and Thailand,” he added.

Presiding over the function, Vijai Sardesai, agriculture minister, Government of Goa, pointed to overexploitation as a major concern and called for proactive measures to avoid situations like the fish famine affecting southeast Asian countries.

“As a small, progressive state, Goa is taking strict measures, such as a ban on LED lights, to curb damaging fishing practices. But bigger states also need to do their bit if we wish to have sustained exports,” he said.

Vinoda Paliencar, Goa’s fisheries and water resources minister, said they were planning to set up a Fisheries Corporation in the state with the dual aim of increasing exports and ensuring that fish is available to domestic consumers at reasonable prices.

V Padmanabham, national president, SEAI, highlighted the challenges faced by seafood producers and exporters, and hoped that the deliberations at IISS 2018 will help address some of these issues.

Babu Kavlekar, opposition leader, Goa, M M Ibrahim, Goa president, SEAI, and K Hari Babu, member, MPEDA, and Member of Parliament (MP), also spoke.

Safe and sustainable seafood from India was the focal theme of the exposition, which saw industry leaders and experts deliberate on policies, market trends and technology.

Delegates included exporters, machinery suppliers, importers, other service providers, researchers, policy makers, etc. from India and countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Australia, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and the Middle-East.
Internationally acclaimed experts from India and abroad will address technical sessions on topics of current interest. On the first day, sessions were held on the role of technology and value addition in seafood marketing, seafood safety requirements in major markets, and Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation and its implications for the seafood sector.
There were sessions on international standards for live transportation of edible shrimp and fish and the use of e-commerce in international seafood marketing as well.
A separate session on Indian–European Union (EU) Shrimp Dialogue in association with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was held on the third day of the event.
COOP Cooperative partnering MPEDA to develop export-oriented organic aqua farming in India to cater to the growing demand for organic seafood products across the EU.

A Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) was inked by Jayathilak and Gerhard Zurlutter, member of management, COOP, at the ongoing India International Seafood Show 2018.

Under the project, MPEDA will assist in identifying entrepreneurs and providing them with technical advice on the production of high-quality organic shrimp that meet national and international certification protocols.

COOP, which has nearly 2,200 sales outlets throughout Switzerland and a wholesale/production business active across Europe, has offered to procure the processed organic shrimp at a premium of up to 15 per cent and with an additional five per cent through financing for development activities, including training.

“The reason why many farmers are hesitant to get into organic production is the increased costs involved. The premium price offered will offset the extra cost and incentivise them to explore organic farming,” said Jayathilak, adding, “Our cooperation with COOP covers the entire value chain and we hope that farmers and entrepreneurs would come forward and take this opportunity to be linked to consumers abroad.”

“There is increased awareness across Europe about organic produce and it constitutes a niche market, which the Indian aquaculture industry can take advantage of,” he added.

The pilot project will be run in Kerala to produce organic black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) initially in an area of about 1,000 hectare, and if successful, be extended to other locations across India.

MPEDA and COOP will facilitate the certification of a shrimp hatchery for the production of organic shrimp seed and similarly certify and empanel a small scale feed mill unit to source the organic feed for the project.

Zurlutter, who is also head, projects and overseas buying frozen products, COOP, said India would be their second leg in organic farming after Vietnam, where they have had success with similar projects and organic producers who are generating considerably higher revenues than conventional farmers.

COOP, Switzerland’s first consumer cooperative with a history of 150 years, is currently celebrating 25 years of organic certification in production.

“For us, organic is not just an investment, it is the future. We are retailers with a deep-seated commitment to sustainability, and we understand that we have to get farmers into a position where they can readily adopt organic farming practices, so we support them with higher prices,” Zurlutter said.

“We also know, from our experience in Vietnam, that although the yields from organic production are relatively low, it is an incredibly simple system, has lower risks than intensive farming and is sustainable over the longer term. It is the balance between nature and commerce that appeals to the European consumer,” he added.

Kochi-based companies JASS Ventures and Baby Marine International will collaborate with COOP to organise the supply chain in Kerala and process the produce through organic methods.

B Sreekumar, secretary, MPEDA, and Alex Ninan, chief executive officer, Baby Marine International, were present at the MoC signing.

Ninan said, “Kerala, with its vast stretches of backwaters and a conducive environment, has enormous potential for organic shrimp farming, which also offers the advantage of putting into commercial use land that might otherwise be unsuitable for agricultural purposes.”

Govt roadmap to double seafood exports
Prabhu said the government will, in the next three months, prepare a comprehensive roadmap with the target of doubling marine products exports in the next few years, including measures to strengthen aquaculture production in states, potential collaborations, marketing and integration of supply chains.

He spoke on the inaugural day of the 21st India International Seafood Show while presenting the MPEDA awards for Export Excellence for the years 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The awards are presented annually to companies that have registered outstanding performance across multiple categories, including deep sea fishing, sustainable aquaculture, compliance and training.
A total of 27 companies were presented performance awards for the years 2015-16 and 2016-17 by Prabhu at the ceremony, attended by Sardesai, Paliencar and Hari Babu, among others.

Prabhu said the commerce and industry ministry will task MPEDA and SEAI to come up with a detailed strategy — including what the states need and can do to build robust aquaculture and fisheries industries — in the next three months and facilitate its immediate implementation.

He added that inland fishery was a priority area for the government and the aim was to create a system for all 13 coastal states to work in tandem for aquaculture development.

“Aquaculture is not just the biggest employment generator in the seafood sector, it is also helping us use land that is not fit for any other purpose, for example brackish water lands. We will try and systematically map all such regions using satellite imagery in the next few months and identify the potential areas for development of aquaculture,” Prabhu said, adding, “We will actively work with the states to make sure they are able to optimally use these lands and take advantage of their export potential.”

The government also proposed to create 10 marketing offices around the world to promote and create brand equity for Indian products.

Prabhu said exporters also needed to revisit the marketing of their products in a changing world. “Marketing today is not just about selling your wares, but attention must also be placed on the quality of the products, on their packaging, on increasing their shelf-life and so on,” he added.

The minister stated that he had been encouraging companies in high-potential markets such as Korea and Japan to explore joint ventures with Indian partners for value-added marine products.

Jayathilak noted that steps were needed to bridge the wide gap in aquaculture development along the east and west coasts of India.

“Currently 70 per cent of aquaculture is concentrated along the east coast. If we can establish similar systems along the west coast, we could even look at exports of Rs 1,00,000 crore in the near future,” he added.

“Marine products is one sector that has bucked the global recessionary trends over the years to register consistent growth, touching close to 20 per cent annually in the past couple of years, thanks in part to the dynamism of exporters,” Jayathilak said.
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