Seafood Exports, Production May Rebound This Fiscal

Kochi, Sept 21: | Updated: Sep 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
The seafood sector has seen a fall in exports and production during the first five months of this fiscal. However, things will shape up in the coming months, said Jose Cyriac, chairman, Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA). Already, in August, there was an increase which augured well for the industry.

Total production was down by nearly 17 per cent to 98,996 tonne from 1,19,196 tonne during the same period of the last fiscal. In rupee terms, there was a 10.25 per cent fall. Export earnings were to the tune of $477.57 million as compared to $ 509.23 during the same period of the previous year, registering a 6.22 per cent fall.

However, in August alone, the quantity produced was at 17,665 tonne as compared to 15,223 tonne during same the month last year. The value earned, in rupee terms, was up by 6.44 per cent to Rs 438.97 crore. In dollar terms, there was a 13.02 per cent rise in earnings from $85.27 million to $ 96.37 million.

Mr Cyriac said that during the whole of last year the share of value-added items as a percentage of exports was up to 19 per cent from 15 per cent the previous year. Three years ago, this was just eight per cent. Significantly, the rise in value-added products would also mean higher earnings.

Another significant development during the last fiscal was the overtaking of the US market which now accounts for over 25 per cent of imports from India. Japan, which till last year held the top slot, was relegated to the second spot and the third spot was taken by the European Union.

Indias exports during last year were up by 14 per cent in rupee terms and 12 per cent up in dollar terms.

The total earnings were to the tune of Rs 6,800 crore and in dollar terms the country earned $1,407 million. Shrimps, which included scampi, still continued to be the main item fetching a massive revenue. Total exports during last year were at 1.45 lakh tonne as compared to 1.27 lakh tonne the previous year.

Though the sector was bogged down by a few rejections during the last year owing to anti-biotic residues, the testing facilities were in place and this could be avoided in future, said marine exporters. However, there was a fall in sea catch and the quality of the fish landing at centres was poor. The situation needs to be tackled and also more land needs to be brought under aquaculture, especially in Kerala where there are several paddy fields remaining uncultivated, they added. The MPEDA chairman said that the concentration should be on value-addition which has been improving, fetching a better revenue.