With the unlocking of the economic activities after a prolonged lockdown, albeit with lots of restrictions and containment zones, shrimp farmers in Odisha are preparing for the rain crop. The stocking is picking up slowly in the State with the availability of seeds. But there will be about 30% deficit in the production in 2020, claims industry experts.
Aqua Post spoke to farmers, exporters and experts about the present status of shrimp farming in Odisha. The findings were revealing as well as encouraging.
There was hardly 40 % stocking in the State during the February-May 2020 as compared to about 70% in 2019 in the same period. This is the major stocking period in the eastern states of India. The impromptu nationwide lockdown brought the shrimp farming activities to a standstill. The unavailability of quality seeds further delayed stocking.
Aditya Dash, Managing Director, Ram’s Assorted Cold Storage Ltd said, “Stocking has been delayed by almost 50% this year. There was not much stocking during the first season. However, there will be normal stocking for the rainy crop. A lot of people have shown interest for the second crop. But as far as the annual production is concerned, the total production will be 60 to 70% of the last year,” adding further, he said, “Apart from low stocking, there is outbreak of disease. Also, there is a major issue of low quality seed.”
Down but still hopeful
Expressing his apprehension about the post-Covid 19 scenario, Dash said, “Good days are gone, though it is too early to say. The farmers have not felt the impact yet. We don’t know what the impact in the USA and EU is. It will be gradual. Restaurants have not opened fully. Many people have lost their jobs. There will be less purchasing power. That should translate into lower demand. But, raw material prices are increasing steadily. Export markets are still volatile. Processors are getting squeezed.”
Unlike the lockdown 1.0 period, farmers are getting good price. Harvesting has started in some areas. But all is not well, claims industry insiders.
G S Rath, Head-Sales & Marketing, Falcon said, “There are many challenges. Major stocking in Odisha takes place between mid- February to last week of May. But the pond preparation was delayed this year owing to continuous rain in the month of February. Thus, the actual stocking in Odisha started in the first week of March. There was hardly 40% stocking before lockdown was announced”.
Rath, who has a long-standing experience in this industry said, “due to lockdown and short supply of seeds, the whole supply chain of the shrimp aquaculture has got disrupted. Though fisheries activities were allowed, yet there were serious issues in implementation at the district level. With the availability of brood-stock, the quality seed supply is expected to be normalized by June end or July first week.”
With 15404 hectares of land under shrimp culture, the State produced about 92000 MT shrimp in 2019-20, according to State government sources. The production during 2018-19 stood at 71000 MT. And the total potential area under brackish water is about 32000 hectares, thereby giving a huge opportunity for the expansion of the industry.
Abhaya Mohapatra, Secretary of the Aquatic Feed Dealers Association foresees a reduction in feed sales this year. Last year, total 120000 tons of feed were consumed in the state.
Mohapatra said, “The total stocking may go up to 60-70% this year. Due to lockdown, hardly 30 % ponds were stocked in the first season. The annual production will fall by 25-30% this year.”
More than 80% farmers are small and marginal farmers in the State. Due to uncertainty of the trade and lack of institutional financing, several farmers will stay away from shrimp farming this year. More farmers are waiting for the supply of quality seeds.
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