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Between Gourmets, Bay of Bengal And the Deep Blue Arabian Sea.

The numbers are awesome: over 2,500 commercially harvestable seafood species and 1.2 million hectares of marine-rich coastal catchment; 2.02 million square kilometers of exclusive economic zone and 512,000 square kilometers of warm continental shelf; 8.5 million hectares of inland water resources.

But what is even more impressive is the high quality of the crustacea, cephalopoda and finfish harvested from the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Now, as never before, such nutritious and delicious bounty is being processed in state-of-the-art plants to assure maximum quality control.

The last decade has seen a dramatic shift in Indian seafood from low-value items to high-end value-added products. This is a tribute to the resilience of the export community's ability to adapt quickly to changing preferences and perceptions among overseas customers.

Today, Indian seafoods are available in a whole host of ready-to-cook value added forms such as battered and breaded shrimp, breaded squid rings, battered and breaded fish fillets, fish burgers, stuffed crabs, cooked salad shrimp, whole cooked lobster and more.

Steering the industry onward, through rough seas as well as calm, is the Kochi-headquartered Marine Products Export Development Authority (Fax: 91-484-312812; E-mail:; Website:, under the helm of Chairman K. Jose Cyriac.

Through research and product development activities, the Government of India's Ministry of Commerce organization has contributed significantly in developing new product lines. As part of its efforts to create and sustain a market for Indian products overseas, it runs systematically planned, multi-lingual, multi-dimensional communication programs aimed at potential prospects. In addition to this, MPEDA, with its network of trade promotion offices abroad, regularly communicates with government agencies, the seafood trade and industrial associations -- all for the purpose of promoting Indian seafood exports.

MPEDA has also played a triggering role in championing, delivering and enforcing internationally acceptable quality standards on the subcontinent. Working in association with the Export Inspection Council of India, it actively oversees quality compliance by verifying the practices and facilities of manufacturers and exporters.

A case in point is HACCP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points) implementation. MPEDA officials, trained under the United States Food and Drug Administration-recognized seafood alliance program, have imparted training to Indian seafood industry personnel at all major seafood centers to facilitate preparation of the HACCP manual.

Meanwhile, the global demand for seafood products is expected to hit 120 million tons per annum by 2010. India contributed almost 303,000 tons to the export basket last year. With fast-improving aquaculture techniques and a hoped for improvement in sea landings, India is a promising source to cater even more to world needs in the future. MPEDA has been a pioneering force in the nation's aquaculture drive, introducing cutting-edge technologies and setting up a wide network of shrimp seed production, supply and research centers, besides providing technical and logistical support, manpower training and subsidies to the industry.

This support for off-shore industrial growth and eco-friendly aquaculture will continue. At the same time, conservation measures and management of fisheries will be emphasized in order to assure preservation of a precious resource for millions of people and a way of life for thousands.

RELATED ARTICLE: Straight Talk from SEAI President Elias Sait On State of India's $1.1 Billion Export Engine

Elias Salt, president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) -- whose 365 member companies represent virtually all frozen marine products exporters -- minced no words in his assessment of the nation's seafood industry delivered in Cochin late last year. Excerpts follow:

Export of marine products during 1998-99 was to the tune of US $1,106.91 billion, contributing 3.32% of the total export earning of the country. This is the fifth successive year that marine product exports crossed the billion dollar mark.

With problems in production and marketing, exports have marginally declined in value. The decline in terms of volume and value was to the extent of 21.48% and 14.58% [expressed in dollars], respectively. Although the unit value realization for all the marine products increased to US $3.65 from $3.36 over the previous year, the unit value of shrimp -- the major item in our export basket -- declined from $8.55 to $7.80 during the year. The decline in export has been primarily due to the following:

* Serious fall in business with China has resulted in a loss of export turnover of more than Rs. 500-600 crores, mainly because of tighter implementation of import law, wherein it became necessary that the importers had to pay increased duties of nearly 20% on ribbon fish, croaker and other cheaper fishes.

* Shrimp prices, particularly those of Black Tigers, dropped by nearly 25% in the months of October to November 1998. This, along with a drop in the sizes of shrimp caught during the period, resulted in a heavy loss of foreign exchange.

* The aquaculture crop was affected as a result of heavy rains and floods in Andhra Pradesh.

Looking ahead, the overall export performance of the marine products industry continues to be very dull. There has been no growth. On the other hand, there has been a decline of more than 10%, as compared to last year as of June. Many of the factories are still starving for material and the capacities are continuing to be un-utilized or under-utilized.

We must regulate our production capacities and may have to put a cap on the additional capacity. We have to regulate competition and try to restrict fresh competition.

Export Figures for Marine Products from India
Years Export Growth (%) Unit Value

1994-95 Q: 307,337 +63,377 (+25.98)
 V: 3575.27 +1071.66 (+42.80) 11633
 $: 1,138.62 +340.37 (+42.64) 3.70

1995-96 Q: 296277 -11060 (-03.60)
 V: 350.11 -74.36 (-02.07) 118.17
 $: 1,111.46 -27.16 (-02.39) 3.75

1996-97 Q: 378,119 +81922 (+27.65)
 V: 4121.36 +629.25 (+17.72) 108.97
 $: 1,152.83 +41.37 (+3.72) 3.05

1997-98 Q: 385,818 +7619 (+2.01)
 V: 4697.48 +576.12 (+13.98) 121.75
 $: 1,295.86 +143.03 (+12.41) 3.36

1998-99 Q: 302,934 -82884 (-21.48)
 V: 4,626.87 -70.61 (-01.50) 152.73
 $: 1,106.91 -188.95 (-14.58) 3.65

Q = Quantity in metric tons; V = Value in crores of rupees; $ = US dollars in millions
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Comment:Between Gourmets, Bay of Bengal And the Deep Blue Arabian Sea.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Previous Article:Onward and Upward For Indian Seafood.
Next Article:Hygienic Seafood Processing Plants Rank Second to None in the World.

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