Thursday , 22 February 2018

Boom in prawn exports skirts Goa

PANAJI: The price of prawns in the international market is currently soaring due to increased demand and exporters are raking in profits but a few Goans are capitalising in on the trend, according to a senior official of the Marine Product Export Development Authority.  

S Asok Kumar, deputy director, MPEDA, Goa, told ‘The Navhind Times’ that the boom in prawn exports from India has largely bypassed Goa. “Hardly any local seafood exporters have benefited from the boom, as the total quantity of exports from the state remains negligible,” he said.

Kumar has attributed the low level of exports to insufficient availability and said that increased thrust on aquaculture is the only way to step up supply.

He said that local prawn culturists are not able to sell overseas directly but go through exporters of other states because their volumes are too negligible.

India is considered as a ‘standout performer’ in prawns business vis-à-vis the world market, and export prices have been on the rise.

“The international prices of prawns increased five per cent in recent weeks and are expected to stay firm,” Kumar said.

According to the MPEDA, prawn exports have seen an impressive jump of 17 per cent between 2012-2017 and have been the driving force behind bumper seafood exports.

Furthermore a chunk of the prawns exported are the aquacultured, vannamei shrimps for which there is a strong global demand.

Goa’s prawn production was 7065 tonne in 2016, of which 6,295 tonne is from marine catch and 770 tonne from inland rivers. In addition, catch also comes from handful of prawn culturists registered with the fisheries department.

As per the department there are about 42 licenced prawn culturists. But ground-level check reveals that only handful of culturists are active. “Several prawn farms have closed down as culturists have suffered a loss. The culturing process is very delicate as even a minor contamination in water or change in Ph level can make us lose the catch,” said Servo Fernandes from Colvale.

Stating that Goan aqua-culturists have no local supply of seeds, he said, “The seeds have to be airfreighted from Chennai and sometimes we get cheated on the quality.”

Fernandes said that exports are lucrative but frequent failure in aquaculture is discouraging to aqua-culturists.

Prawn farmer Joseph D’Souza of Saligao said that rise in international price does not benefit local exporters much because they sell to processors based in Andhra Pradesh and  other states.

“We do not receive a good price as they pay us about 30 per cent lower than what they pay exporters from the east coast,” he said.

According to D’Souza, only seven to eight registered prawn culturists are currently active and this is also due to the indifferent attitude of the fisheries department.

Goa’s sea food exports are mainly of cuttlefish, sardines, mackerels, etc., and prawns are exported in minor quantities.

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