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Undercurrent News Reports

 

On February 8, 2018, Undercurrent News posted a long article about shrimp farming in India to its webpage.  Authored by Luis Harkell, it covers a wide range of topics from private sector activities to antibiotics.  Here are some excerpts:

 

IFB Agro Industries: IFB Agro Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of agriculture products, aqua feeds and frozen shrimp, showed Undercurrent News how its new smartphone app helps farmers in West Bengal manage their farms.  Most of the farms have just two to four ponds; none are larger than 0.2-0.5 hectares.  The app, called “Croppin”, which IFB began developing three years ago, monitors water quality, stocking density, shrimp growth and feed conversion rates.  The information is geo-tagged with the farm and pond’s location.

 

At the India International Seafood Show (Goa, January 27–29, 2018), Moumita Banerjee, assistant manager for exports at IFB Agro, told Undercurrent News, “I know which farms are producing what, what size of shrimp, when they are harvesting.  I also have full traceability through the software....  West Bengal is growing, but farmers are small-scale.  We are bringing awareness to farmers so that they are farming and harvesting properly,” she said.  IFB technicians periodically visit the farms to collect the data and then upload it to the cloud.

 

The app is only being rolled out in West Bengal, but it could be adopted nationwide in the future, she said.  A “shrimp-buyer” version of the app is also underdevelopment, so a buyer will know everything about the product he is buying, including the name of the farm where it was harvested.

 

IFB provides free training and advice to farmers through its network of 30 “Aquashops” in West Bengal.  The number of shops—each with a technician, shrimp feed and other products—will be expanded to 100 by the end of the year, Banerjee said.

 

In West Bengal, IFB says the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture, established by India’s Marine Products Export Development Authority in 2007, plays a key role in helping shrimp farms get internationally recognized sustainability certificates, such as The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP) certification.

 

India has more shrimp facilities certified by GAA’s BAP program than any other country, accounting for 15% of all BAP-certified facilities globally.  In all, 325 shrimp facilities are BAP certified or are pending approval or in the process of certification.  They range from feed mills to hatcheries, farms and processing plants; 37 of them have four-star BAP status.  By the end of 2018, 90% of all the feed brands in India will have BAP certification.  Information: Moumita Banerjee, IFB Agro Industries Limited, CIN: L01409WB1982PLC034590, Plot No. Ind-5, Sector–1, East Kolkata Township, Kolkata, West Bengal 700107, India (Phone 33-3984-9675, Email agro@ifbglobal.com, Webpage http://www.ifbagro.in).

 

Avanti Feeds: In the state of Andhra Pradesh, publicly-listed Avanti Feeds, India’s largest shrimp feed company, which also has a separate joint venture with Thai Union Group called Avanti Frozen Foods, is working closely with shrimp farmers.  At one of its “partner farms”, which Undercurrent News visited, several Avanti employees were based semi-permanently on the farm, carrying out a range of farm duties, like feeding, monitoring water quality and doing farm maintenance.  Nikhilesh Alluri, business development manager at Avanti Feeds, said the owner of the farm had done “very well” financially due to the “extreme care” he had taken with farm management.  An outbreak of whitespot syndrome at a neighboring farm did not affect his farm.  “They know how to handle it [whitespot] now,” said Alluri.  With annual production of 800 metric tons of shrimp a year, the owner plans to expand production.  Information: Nikhilesh Alluri, Avanti Feeds Limited, Aqua Products Export Division, Gopalapuram, Ravulapalem Mandal, E.G. District, Andhra Pradesh, India 533 274 (Phone 91-8855-241570, Fax 91-8855-241680, Email processplant@avantifeeds.com, Webpage https://www.avantifeeds.com).

 

BMR Group: During a visit to BMR Group’s 91-hectare shrimp farm near Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, Undercurrent News met a team of several aquaculture specialists from Belgian aquaculture nutrition and health company INVE Aquaculture.  Olivier Decamp, product manager for farm and feed at INVE, told Undercurrent News the INVE team was there to help BMR with product support and improvements to farm protocols and nursery systems.  Altogether, BMR owns 400 hectares of farms in Andhra Pradesh and 11 hatcheries along India’s east coast.

 

A technical manager at a BMR hatchery near Nellore said each year his team of hatchery technicians—many with PHDs—visits hatcheries in Thailand, Vietnam and China.  He said China’s hatcheries are the most impressive due to their water filtration technology.  “Over the past 25 years that I’ve worked here, the biggest improvements have been in water filtration,” he said.  Information: Sivakumar Janga, BMR Group, 16/3-509, Mini Bye-pass Road, Ramamurthi Nagar, Nellore 524003, Andhra Pradesh, India (Phone +91-861-2325515, Email ivakumar@bmrgroups.org, Webpage http://bmrgroups.com).

 

Government Regulations and Support: During Undercurrent News’ visit to Andhra Pradesh, suppliers to the industry often endorsed Indian government efforts to regulate and manage shrimp farming, saying the government had a keen focus on sustainable growth.

 

During the visit to Avanti’s partner farm, Undercurrent News saw no other shrimp farms during the hour-long journey to the farm, and no other shrimp farms were visible in its vicinity.  New shrimp farm developments are strictly manage by state authorities in Andhra Pradesh, Avanti Feeds chairman and managing director Indra Kumar told Undercurrent News.  “They want to build a long-term sustainable model.  They want to keep the environment clean,” he said.

 

Risks of cross-border disease contamination from imported broodstock and postlarvae have been well managed, Ramesh Kumar, general manager at BMR said.  “First, broodstock can only be imported by a select few companies.  Second, the broodstock is kept in isolation after entry into the country for up to a month, where it is tested for disease and other contaminants.”  The government also determines which strains of algae can be used by hatcheries to feed shrimp larvae.  “They [the government] have stringent rules nowadays.  They are asking us to use GMP [good manufacturing practice] everywhere,” adding that many illegal hatcheries have been closed.

 

Regulatory capacity has not been able to keep pace with the massive increase in shrimp production in India, one Indian industry source told Undercurrent News.  Just 1,684 shrimp farms in India are registered with India’s Coastal Aquaculture Authority, although registration is mandatory for the majority of farms.  Certifying shrimp farms in India with schemes like BAP still faces “significant challenges”, said Panchu Duraisamy, BAP Coordinator in India, adding that 90% of shrimp farms in India are small-scale.  “In terms of the capacity of the farmer to put together a system to get certified, it’s going to take time.  Hatcheries, processors and feed plants, by comparison, have well-organized structures”.

 

Antibiotics: At the 21st India International Seafood Show an European official said that compliance on antibiotics at the farm level in India is still “insufficient”.  Wojciech Dziworski, the counsellor for health and food safety on the EU delegation to India, said, “In India, there is still a challenge with primary production, intermediaries and the final step of production, something which needs to improve.  The...controls are not necessarily to the degree that ensures there are no forbidden substances.  We see so much progress on all the other levels, but this is a fundamental not addressed by the checks and balances at the primary [farm] level,” he said.

 

Source: Undercurrent News (eight free news reads every month).  Editor, Tom Seaman (tom.seaman@undercurrentnews.com).  Indian Shrimp Firms Use Technology, Farm Engagement to Improve Sustainability.  Louis Harkell  (louis.harkell@undercurrentnews.com).  February 8, 2018.

 

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