SEAFOOD EXPORTS POISED FOR A GIANT LEAP– BREAKTHROUGH IN SCAMPI RESEARCH MARINE PRODUCTS 1.1% OF THE TOTAL EXPORT EARNINGS
Date : 07 Jun 2011
Location : New Delhi
Sea food exports is all set to scale new heights with the remarkable breakthrough for ensuring the supply of high quality all male Scampi (Scampi: Giant Fresh water prawn) seeds. In April this year, The Scampi Broodstock Development Project of RGCA at Konathanapadu, Kankipadu Mandal, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, successfully developed the First Proven Neofemale in the country and achieved production of all male progeny of the Giant fresh water prawn (Scampi- Macrobrachium rosenbergii) for the 1st time in the subcontinent – an enviable achievement unmatched by any research organization in the nation so far. The technology developed at RGCA involves sex reversal of healthy Scampi males into functional females (called as Neofemales) through microsurgical interventions and crossing these females with normal males to produce all male progeny. This technology does not involve any kind of genetic manipulations or hormonal treatments. This has the potential of increasing the unit area production by around 40 per cent.
One of the major challenges faced by the Scampi farmers today is that with the differential growth (among males and females) which causes low survivals and poor yields. To overcome this, the Scampi farmers presently segregate males and females painstakingly at the farm and grow only males that grow to larger sizes in quicker time when compared to the females. Therefore, the technology, now developed by RGCA could easily resolve this major challenge of differential growth faced by the Scampi farmers and provide the much needed boost to revive the Scampi farming in the country.
Having developed the technology for all male Scampi production, the project is now just a step away from large scale production of Neofemales. Once this is achieved, the project would be able to ensure the supply of high quality all male Scampi seeds to the industry resulting in elevating the unit area production by around 40% as well as boosting up the overall Scampi Aquaculture production from the country. As a result the scampi export from the country is expected to rise, with improved economic benefits to the farmers.
The Giant Fresh water Prawn is an important export commodity with great demand in the International Seafood market. This species also has great potential for Aquaculture in India and can be farmed in inland areas also with good fresh water resources. However, in the wake of several technical problems that besieged the industry, the Aquaculture production of this species in the country declined from a high of 43,000 tons in 2005 to 4000 tons in 20010-11. Marine products account for around 1.1% of the total export earnings for India. Around 7.53 Lakhs tons of Seafood worth around Rs. 12100 Crores (2.68 billion USD) has been exported from India during 2010-11.
As a part of this project RGCA has also completed a diallel crossing experiment for the development of an improved strain of Scampi that performs well in farming conditions. The development of all male seeds would be taken up from this strain to maximize the benefits to the industry. It is envisaged that the project would be able to produce and supply all male fresh water prawn seeds on commercial basis within next two years. The technology for all male Scampi seed production would also be passed on to the Scampi hatcheries/entrepreneurs across the country.
Aquaculture has been contributing to the seafood exports from the country, in view of the dwindling natural fishery of commercially important varieties like shrimps. Farmed Shrimp and Scampi (Fresh water Prawn) accounted for 41% share in exports in terms of quantity and 50% in terms of value of the total Shrimp and Scampi exports from the country. However, contribution from Aquaculture to the total Seafood exports has been more or less stagnant over the last decade and aquaculture production contributed only 15.3% in terms of quantity and 25.2% in terms of value to the total Seafood exports from the country. This is pale in comparison with countries like China where contribution from aquaculture for export is significantly higher than the contribution from wild catches.
The Marine Products Export Development Authority, under the Ministry of Commerce and industry, Govt. of India embarked upon a programme to strengthen the Aquaculture production base, an essential prerequisite to sustain and augment the aquaculture production as well as seafood exports from the country. This programme was taken up by setting up of a “Technology Development Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture” in the name of the Late Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA) with its Head quarters based at Sirkali, Nagapattinam Dt., and Tamil Nadu. RGCA is presently implementing several innovative R & D Projects in Aquaculture at different locations across the country that is involved in the development of Sustainable Aquaculture technologies that are Bio secure, Eco friendly and traceable, for seed production and grow out farming of various aquatic species, those having export potential in particular.