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April 28, 2022

Increased prices characterise India's aquafeed sector

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India's fisheries and aquaculture sectors have registered an average annual growth of 7.53% in the last five years.

Concerning aquafeed, around 1.4 million tonnes of shrimp feed was produced in India last year. This amount supported the production of 0.85 million tonnes of shrimp in 2021.

Currently, a potential 1.2 million hectares of brackish water is available in India, with only 10% being utilised. These vast resources are one of the key drivers catalysing the expansion of India's shrimp farming and feed business.

The market was greatly influenced by the commercialisation of Litopenaeus vannamei (white leg shrimp). The production and export of vannamei shrimp have surpassed native shrimp species Penaeus monodon (black tiger shrimp), which were dominant until 2003. However, the farming of black tiger shrimp is increasing again in many parts of India.

Today, India has 40 feed mills that can produce shrimp feeds, with a total capacity of 3.5 million tonnes. Andhra Pradesh represents the largest market for shrimp feed and is expected to account for 55% of the total shrimp feed market by 2022-23 followed by West Bengal (13%), Gujarat (11%), Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (10%), Odisha (7.5%) and Maharashtra (2%).

But, shrimp feed prices also increased two to three times in a year by ₹10/kg (US$0.13). Shrimp feed prices last year were around ₹84/kg (US$1.10). Feed prices escalated in the same year as soybean, the main ingredient in feed, became costlier. The shortage of the grain forced several feed companies to import the product.

That said, the 5% import duty on prawn feed that are used in farms was waived in the first week of February 2022. The move has been welcomed by the aquaculture sector, even if it is at the expense of local feed producers.

Protein and lipid levels in shrimp feed produced in India are typically in the range of 32-41% and 5-6%, respectively. Shrimp feeds contain various ingredients and feed additives, which are supplied by a diverse set of Indian and multinational enterprises.

As for fish feed, demand is about two million tonnes per year. India’s fish feed industry is expanding rapidly with a growth rate of 10% every year.

Still, acquiring the best quality of raw materials at the right price is the biggest challenge. The prices of extruded and pelleted fish feeds were ₹30/kg (US$0.39) and ₹28/kg (US$0.37), respectively, last year and are expected to rise further.

Species diversification will open up new opportunities for the Indian aquaculture industry (in fact, some farmers have already started farming snakehead murrel). Institutes, fisheries colleges and state fisheries departments are also working with fish farmers to increase production to 22 million tonnes.

Going forward, there is a need to focus on domestic market consumption along with exports while also employing more scientific methods of production. Technology can also help to convert wastelands to usable wetlands, thus providing a way to drive up production.

Meanwhile, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) has been set up for creating fisheries infrastructure facilities (both in marine and inland fisheries sectors) and augmenting fish production.

- Dr. Dinesh T. Bhosale

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