Visakhapatnam, Sept 23: India’s resurgent seafood industry got a major impetus with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman announcing a raft of measures, including setting up of agencies for aquaculture and fisheries in all coastal states and export incentives for marine products under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), at a high-profile international seafood conference here today.
Under the MEIS, the government currently allocates Rs 22,000 crore annually for exports. “From this financial year onwards, an additional Rs 1500 crore will be allocated under the scheme that will include certain marine and seafood items,” Mrs Sitharaman said at the 20th edition of the three-day India International Seafood Show (IISS), which began here this morning at the Port Trust Diamond Jubilee Stadium.
The agencies for aquaculture and fisheries, under the guidance of the chief ministers and headed by their chief secretaries, will be under the aegis of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), the nodal body for marine exports under the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry.
Voicing concern, she said that despite being a major producer, India’s seafood industry has a long way to go in fully tapping the potential for value addition. “I held discussions with trade ministers from Japan and South Korea recently and they have expressed interest in collaborating with India for development of aquaculture,” she added.
Mrs Sitharman hoped that the MPEDA would play a key role in bringing in the best industry practices from around the globe to accelerate the growth of the seafood industry.
Expressing his government’s determination to make Andhra Pradesh the ‘Aquaculture Hub’ not only of India but also of the world, Mr N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, said the state accounted for over 45 per cent of India’s cultured shrimp exports during 2015-16. “We expect to touch a target of 70 per cent over the next few years,” he added.
Stressing the need for controlling diseases in farmed shrimps, Mr Naidu said his government has set up a Task Force to set up state of the art laboratories in this regard.
The IISS, with 'Safe and Sustainable Indian Aquaculture' as the central theme of the event, has been organised jointly by MPEDA, under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Seafood Exporters’ Association of India (SEAI), with Export Inspection Council (EIC) as its knowledge partner.
Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister of Urban Development, who was the Guest of Honour, said there is a soaring demand for India’s seafood in the international market.
“The industry must strive to develop value addition, which will benefit farmers”, he stressed.
Dr. Kambhampati Hari Babu, MP and member of the MPEDA, stated that there is a need for developing fishing jetties associated with ports to protect the interests of fishermen.
In his introductory remarks, Dr A Jayathilak, Chairman, MPEDA, said India’s seafood industry, which witnessed a dip of 10 per cent last year had now shown an increase of 10 per cent this year, despite a global recession.
The MPEDA has set a target of marine product export target of 5.6 billion US dollars in 2016-17, an increase of nearly 20 per cent . “We expect a sea change by the year 2020 by which we expect exports to touch US$ 10 billion, ”he said.
Dr Jayathilak hoped the mega event would prove to be a platform for future collaborations with major international players in the industry.
SEAI president Padmanabham called for short and long term cooperation between the Centre and states to look into the interests of the seafood industry in connection with issues regarding trawling
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