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Vision document aims to boost marine exports to $4 b

G. Srinivasan

MPEDA to work jointly with Fisheries Development Board .


Five-pronged strategy
The five planks of the document are: product diversification, focus on brackish water aquaculture in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Orissa, increase in value addition of marine product exports from 15 to 75 per cent, making India major hub for outsourcing and reprocessing marine products, creating bio security zone.

Port Blair (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) , Oct. 26

A five-pronged vision document to step up the country's marine product exports from $1.7 billion to $4 billion in five years and ensuring additional employment for one million wasunveiled here on Thursday.The five planks of the vision document are: Product diversification, focus on potential brackish water aquaculture in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Orissa, a substantial increase in value-addition of marine product exports from 15 per cent to 75 per cent, making India a major hub for outsourcing and reprocessing of marine products and creating a bio security zone here, the Minister of State for Commerce, Mr Jairam Ramesh, said.

After chairing a stakeholder meeting on maintaining the bio-secuirty of the island and the need for promoting sustainable shrimp cultivation, the Minister said the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and the newly-formed National Fisheries Development Board to be headquartered in Andhra Pradesh would work together to ensure that the strategic vision outlined in the document was implemented.

Emphasising the need for product diversification, he said 64 per cent of export was concentrated on frozen shrimp and the need for diversification into other marine products was crucial. Second, as the bulk of investment in the marine product export industry was in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the focus would now be on Orissa, Gujarat and Maharashtra, where, in the latter two States, the potential for exploiting brackish water aquaculture was quite substantial. The frozen shrimp export industry in traditional States would also be consolidated.

Hub for outsourcing

He said India held the potential to be a hub for outsourcing in marine product industry as its 360 processing factories work with only 20 per cent capacity. The scope for importing raw material and processing it and adding value for re-export in shrimp processing, squid, cuttle fish and finfish should be enhanced.

Mr Ramesh said Andaman and Nicobar Islands was the best area for establishing a bio-security zone for developing disease-free mother shrimps, which could be given to hatcheries for export.

"Bio security is absolutely essential because in the last 10 years our exports have not grown significantly because of the white spot virus," he said.

Cage culture

The MPEDA Chairman, Mr G. Mohan Kumar, said the vision document was important for diversifying into new products and new processes such as cage culture, considering the pressure on land cultivation because of ecological reasons.

Mr Ramesh said as land was an emotive and politically volatile issue, India should also go in for cage culture on a larger scale. "We are exporting cages to Norway and we are getting Norwegian technical assistance for promoting cage culture in India," the Minister quipped.

Mr Kumar said China and Vietnam had made tremendous progress, as also Norway in cage culture. He said countries such as Vietnam export catfish worth $1 billion a year and the time has come to adopt a `non-shrimp product portfolio.'

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