Visakhapatnam, Feb 23: In a bid to ensure that shrimp and other exportable varieties of fish are free from any trace of banned and unwanted substances, MPEDA has launched a unique initiative to develop a GPS-based database of export-oriented aquaculture farms in the country for their traceability as well as to secure interests of end-consumer.
Under the scheme, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), a nodal agency of the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry, is enrolling all the farms engaged in production of shrimp, shellfish and other exportable varieties of fish by providing the farmers cards carrying a Unique Identification Number (Farm ID) and Quick Response (QR) code containing basic information about their farms.
An estimated 100,000 farms covering about 195,994 hectares are under shrimp culture in India. Out of this, MPEDA has collected GPS data for 65,595 farms covering 148,321 hectares while enrollment has been completed for 54,165 farms.
The cards will be distributed among the enrolled aquaculture farmers by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu at a function here on Sunday (Feb 25) in the presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Shri N Chandrababu Naidu.
MPEDA Chairman Dr. A. Jayathilak said the purpose of enrollment is to identify each farm/hatchery unit for extending the assistance schemes as well as for their traceability. The produce from the enrolled units can be traced back from farm to end-consumer in case of detection of unwanted or unauthorised substances in the produce.
The Pre-harvest Test (PHT) to screen the farm produce for banned antibiotics such as Choloramphenicol and Nitrofuran is also linked with the Unique ID issued to the enrolled famers. PHT certificate is compulsory for the exports of aquaculture shrimp to the European Union (EU).
“The process of farm enrollment is carried out following an elaborate procedure of collecting application from the farmers, generating a farm data sheet carrying various details of the farm, verification of the documents and physical verification of farm using highly accurate handheld GPS devices,” he pointed out.
Such a measure would go a long way in addressing concerns of USA, Japan and the EU for stringent quality controls over exports of seafood and check traces of banned antibiotics in consignments, Dr. Jayathilak noted.
The validity of the card/enrollment is for five years or the valid lease period, whichever is less. The cards, being printed in both English and vernacular languages such as Telugu, Odiya, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi and Gujarati, carry information such as farm enrollment number, location of the farm, date of issue and validity of card. The cards for farm owned by the farmer and the farm operated on lease basis are in distinct colours.
Issuing of enrollment card is one of the key steps for providing an effective traceability system for the farmed seafood, Dr Jayathilak said. “The other key steps are capturing traceability information at all levels of the value chain and electronically coding the key information for display in the cartons/packs by way of QR Code/Bar Code. It will enable the end-consumer to access the information up to the farm/hatchery level,” he added.
“We will continue the enrollment process to cover all export-oriented aquaculture farms coming up and operating in the country,” Dr. Jayathilak said.
MPEDA regularly monitors the enrolled farms and trains the farmers for Best Management Practices (BMPs), empowers them with market information for getting better price for the produce and conducts awareness campaigns to sensitize them about the ill-effects of antibiotics.
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