Indian seafood industry has a potential of 4.42 million tonnes out of which 3.22 million tonnes is presently utilised. Brackish water areas are known for shrimp cultivation, and it is about 1.24 million hectare. Presently, only 15% is utilised for shrimp farming to produce 2.78 lakh tonnes of export-worthy shrimps, campi, mud crab and seabass. Hence, shrimp farming can contribute to about 70-75% of seafood exports in terms of value. A gradual and systematic introduction of Vannamei shrimps by the regulatory agencies have increased the opportunity of Indian contribution to world seafood, as quoted by the officials. Ramakanth V Akula, CEO, The Waterbase (promoted by the Karam Chand Thapar Group) has stated that many large seafood buyers from United States (US) and European Union (EU) are viewing India as a reliable base of supply of shrimps. USA and EU have also come up with investments in the form of new farms, feed mills, hatcheries and processing factories.
The shipments of shrimps being rejected owing to antibiotic residues in US and EU is a matter of national concern. This can be fixed through a better traceability to assure the food safety. Pond-reared brood stocks are questionable and the pathogen-free Vannamei brood stock are found more reliable in hatcheries. The use of pond reared brood stock could increase the susceptibility of pathogen occurrence, which will also increase the medicine application on the brood. Farmers are unaware that the meds they give their shrimps to save them from the majority of viral and bacterial occurrence contain scheduled drugs like Chloramphenicol and Nitrofurans which causes more harm than good. Though they are effective against the diseases, these banned antibiotics residues are found on arrival at the ports of EU or US ending up getting rejected batch after batch from the entry into human food chain.
Farmers need to be educated about the varieties of shrimp available for aquaculture and about good agricultural practices including antibiotic usage. Coastal Aqua Culture Authority (CAA) has recently issued a public notice during October informing the aquaculture input manufacturers (indigenous) and aquaculture inputs distributors (imported) to register their products mentioning the type of product, its chemical/biological nature, application dosage suggested and the generic process of manufacture. This notice is expected to bring more awareness in the method of shrimp farming which is expected to bring about reduced incidences of export reject cases.
Implementing cloud-supported software like Rainplus Grow will help in keeping the grower database while their package of practices, grower contracts can be kept intact. This software also allows the Eexporter to monitor growing operations where usage of every input can be recorded and every aspect of compliance can be tracked. The exporter should be completely aware of the shipment whereabouts such that the uncertain rejection rates should be minimised.