Innovation and Modernization key to enhance Fisheries and Marine Exports.
On 4th February 2022, India SME forum conducted India Xports Initiative - Multi - Sector Webinar Series with focus sector - Marine, Sea Foods and Frozen Foods. The panel discussion was focused on the export potential, challenges and suggestions to unlock the export potential, road ahead of the sector involving government stakeholders, industrial experts, researchers, entrepreneurs. This Initiative aims to drive export growth with the help of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to achieve the target of $400 billion by this fiscal, and the challenging target of $1 trillion in exports by 2027. The portal www.indiaxports.com was launched to orient over 100,000 potential exporter MSMEs of India in order to double the number of current active exporters to 70000+ from the current 32000, by the end of Year 2022, including around 5000 Women Entrepreneurs.
India has been the 2nd largest producer of Aquaculture & Fish and 4th largest exporter of Seafood in the world; it has a current export level of around 46,000 cr. Moreover, the exports of the sector have seen a growth of 35% from 2011 to 2021. The potential of the sector was highlighted Joint Director, Mr. Anil Kumar P by MPEDA by the low production level as well as the current untapped market in regions like European nations, southeast Asia etc. MPEDA has envisioned doubling exports from the current 46,000 Cr to 1 lakh Cr by 2030.
To convert this into reality, the government has initiated various schemes like PM Matsya SAMPADA yojana, PLI scheme extended to the marine sector, etc. The upcoming plans from the government include the adoption of cluster developmental approach to ensure economies of scale as well as ensuring conducive working of institutional mechanism at both regional and local level. Lastly, MPEDA envisions enhancing investment in technology and promotion of innovation in the sector.
However currently, the sector faces various challenges as highlighted by Industrial experts like Mr. K. Sunil Mohamed, Former Principal Scientist at CMFRI and Exporter association leaders like Mr. Jagdish Fofandi, President, Seafood Export Association of India. Firstly, Indian exports lack diversification on account of 74% of exports being dominated by shrimp. this lack of diversity and overdependence on certain aspects could backfire anytime as the fisheries sector is prone to diseases like white spot, sanitary trade barriers etc. Secondly, value added exports are lacking in the Indian setup. As per Joint Director, MPEDA only 10% of exports of fisheries in India are value added whereas the same stat is around 70% in case of competitors like Vietnam. Thirdly, Indian exports are denied entry to various developed nations on account of sanitary trade barriers which are often found unreasonable and not controllable but at the same time quality control remains an unaddressed issue in the Indian scenario as highlighted by Smt. Anita Praveen, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India. Lastly, the sector lacks modernization, capital and machinery leading to a lack of competitiveness of exports, wastage, logistical challenges etc.
To address such challenges and tap the unexplored potential, there is a need to diversify our exports also focus on ensuring value addition and processing of our exports. Moreover, Mr. Willem Van Der Pijl, Director and Owner, Shrimp Insights addressed the need of innovation and marketing side reforms by budding entrepreneurs in the sector. Lastly, Mr. Manoj Sharma (MD, Mayank aquaculture) also highlighted the untapped potential of the domestic market and the need to focus on development of supply chains in the domestic setup.
Today we need to focus on increasing our production capacity being gifted a coastline of 7500km, experience of region-specific traditional practices of production along with the increasing scope of modernization complemented with innovation.
Author - Lakshay Verma, India SME Forum