Shrimp Farming in India: Fast & Furious – Controls and Caution to Growth

Mr S Santhana Krishnan, Chief Executive Officer, Marine Technologies, India

In 2017, India stood out in global production of farmed Penaeus vannamei shrimp with 600,000 tonnes. Exports increased by 41%, valued at US$2.3 billion. By 2022, the target is to increase exports to US$7 billion, although some stakeholders are more optimistic that the industry can achieve US$10 billion. The surge in exports can be attributed to the growth of new shrimp farming areas and additional processing capacity in some states. This massive expansion and large investments together with a multitude of stakeholders benefitted from stable shrimp prices. The rise in production came with controls in imports of specific pathogen free (SPF) broodstock, hatcheries and farming areas as well as a cap on stocking density.

However, with this increase in production, Indian shrimp farmers shifted from harvesting large-size shrimp to medium- and small-size shrimp. Issues such as rising production costs, slow growth and high salinity are driving farmers to look at innovative farming technologies like nurseries, lined ponds with high aeration, and closed farming with the use of water treatment additives.

Despite biosecurity controls, white spot syndrome virus has a major effect on farm profitability. The need of the hour is for more stakeholder interaction with government agencies to build a sustainable shrimp farming model that can cope with rising projections. With regard to recent coverage on the use of antibiotics in farmed shrimp in India, proper production controls should be emphasized, along with the publication of authenticated media reports. Industry also needs to improve market access to Europe and address factors influencing sustainability and profitability.