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Budget puts aquaculture sector in steady waters

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NEW DELHI : Aquaculture sector assumes utmost importance in the country as India has a very long coastline of over 5,00 km, and seafood production is carried out in over 200 districts across multiple coastal provinces of India. Inland and aquaculture production and seafood exports have doubled since a separate fisheries department was set up a few years earlier.

India is the 3rd largest fish producing country with around 8 percent share in global fish production. Globally, India stands 2nd in aquaculture production and is one of the top shrimps producing and exporting nations. Coastal aquaculture, particularly shrimp farming, is the most vibrant food producing sector in India, earning high foreign exchange. Frozen shrimp contributed nearly 70 percent of USD 8 billion worth of seafood exports from the country during FY23.

In 2020, the Government of India launched the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) with the goal of transforming the country’s fisheries and aquaculture sector.  The PMMSY scheme focuses on developing and modernizing fishing harbors, landing centers, fish markets, and fish-landing centers and has witnessed a total outlay of almost Rs 20,000 crore over a period of five years, from 2020 to 2024-25.

During the Interim Budget 2024, the finance minister announced a new set of measures to boost the growth in the sector. Under the PMMSY, the government aims to double the aquaculture exports to nearly Rs 1 lakh crores and generate over 50 lakh job employment opportunities. Besides this, the government also plans to set up five integrated Aqua parks.

The Indian seafood industry has been struggling off late due to oversupply, falling prices and a competitive landscape. Ecuador that has been gaining market share in US, Europe and other geographies has replaced India as the shrimp export leader in recent years by offering its produce at cheaper prices. Therefore, the efforts to increase productivity and yields under this scheme should provide much-needed tailwinds for fisheries as well as shrimp exporters.  The move augurs well for Avanti Feeds (largest producer of shrimp feed in India with a market share of 50 percent in the domestic feed business) and Apex Frozen Foods (integrated producer and exporter of frozen shrimp).

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