To enjoy additional benefits
February 03, 2024 08:44 pm | Updated 08:44 pm IST – KOCHI
The seafood export industry has welcomed the interim Union Budget 2024-25 and said it was a welcome change from the past with the government looking at the fisheries sector and seafood exports particularly as a major area of growth.
Pawan Kumar G., president of Seafood Exporters’ Association of India (SEAI), said the target set by the interim Budget to double exports to achieve ₹1 lakh crore earnings was achievable with government support.
The SEAI president pointed to certain trade barriers in the U.S. and European markets that had become impediments to India achieving its potential in seafood exports. A shortfall in domestic shrimp production against the installed processing capacity is another area that needs to be looked into.
The Union Finance Minister said in her address that the Centre had set up a separate department for fisheries, recognising the importance of the sector and to assist fishermen. The move has resulted in doubling inland and aquaculture production. Seafood export since 2013-14 had also doubled, she said. The implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana will be stepped up to enhance aquaculture productivity from the existing three to five tonnes a hectare. Seafood exports could be doubled to generate 55 lakh employment opportunities in the near future, she added.
In keeping with these developments, the seafood exporters have appealed to the government to treat aquaculture on par with agriculture. Both fishing boat operators and aquaculturists could be treated as farmers and given tax concessions that were at present available to the agricultue sector, said the SEAI president.
Rising input costs in aquaculture, especially of shrimp feed, is another area that has drawn the attention of exporters. If the government can provide relief on import duty on some of the fish and shrimp feed ingredients that are imported, it will make aquaculture more viable for farmers. The SEAI is keen to ensure that the farmers are not further burdened with cost. A shortage of raw material availability has also resulted in the seafood sector utilising only about half of its installed capacity.
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