The Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) has revealed that the shrimp production industry of Kerala has suffered a loss of about Rs. 308 crore due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As per a study performed by CIBA on shrimp aquaculture, it has been observed that the unusual conditions following the pandemic prompted remarkable decrement in the production of shrimp by about 500 tonnes in the State, leaving a large number of individuals jobless.
Shrimp cultivation in Kerala is generally done in around 3,144 hectares with a normal production of about 1,500 tonnes every year.
Decreased farming activities and reduced duration of culture during the lockdown phase are the main factors which severely affected the shrimp industry of the state. Difficulty in availing seeds, feeds and man force for which Kerala relies upon other states are the main reasons for the disrupted cultivation activities. The situation further exacerbated due to increased prices of farm inputs and market unpredictability.
Around 50 percent of the cultivators surrendered shrimp cultivation although they had previously prepared the lakes, as they faced troubles in getting good quality seed. Vulnerability and unsureness of the market made the situation even worse. Apart from the limitations in sourcing seeds because of strategic issues, multiplied feed cost and trouble faced in acquiring other cultivation necessities caused the cultivation to decrease in about 30% of the total cultivating areas.
The industry was gravely hit as the lockdown limitations influenced transportation of shrimp feeds and other essential goods from other states Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, etc. causing the feed costs to rise.
Farmers who had surplus stocks, terrified by the chances of even larger monetary losses, started doing ‘panic harvesting’ of little, immature and under-developed shrimps and sold them at lower prices.
KK Vijayan, Director of CIBA informed- “The probable loss to Indian shrimp sector due to lockdown is estimated at 40 per cent and the total loss in value terms was estimated at $1.60 billion.”
“However, both the Central and State governments stepped in to take proactive and dynamic measures such as notifying aquaculture as an essential activity, easing the restrictions for the movement of farming inputs and people and ensuring minimum procurement price for the farmed shrimp”, he further said declaring that extra efforts are needed to execute the strategies and plans at the ground-level and follow-up the initiatives making use of government means and mechanisms.