Seafood industry happy with new sops

April 3rd, 2008 - 3:09 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Kochi, April 3 (IANS) Seafood exporters in Kerala are happy with the sops announced by the central government to bail them out, especially the incentive for shrimp farmers. Shrimp farming was last week included in the Vishesh Krishi And Gram Udyog Yojana (VKGUY), which gives the exporters extra duty benefits.

Anwar Hashim, president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), described the move as “yet another bonanza for the industry”.

“With shrimp now included under VKGUY, the exporters will get an additional 3.5 percent in the duty entitlement pass book (DEPB) scheme. Currently seafood exporters get eight percent under this scheme. The biggest boon is that this 3.5 percent will be distributed among all the players in the seafood industry including the fishermen, the aquaculture farms, the processing industry and us exporters,” Hashim told IANS.

The objective of VKGUY is to promote export of fruits, vegetables, flowers, minor forest produce, dairy, poultry and now shrimp by providing incentives to exporters.

The SEAI, which had been requesting the central government for sops for long, had submitted a memorandum to United Progressive Alliance head Sonia Gandhi when she visited here last month.

Last month, SEAI officials were in New Delhi and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other union ministers requesting them to intervene to save the crisis-ridden industry. They are happy with the new incentives.

“This additional 3.5 percent credit is a big boost because close to 55 percent value of the total seafood exports come from export of shrimp alone. This is also good news for aquaculture farmers,” added Hashim.

The total export of seafood this fiscal is lower by 25 percent in quantity and 20 percent in value as compared to the previous fiscal.

One reason is the severe competition from China, Vietnam and Thailand, which offer cheaper products.

In the 2006-07 fiscal, export of marine products from India was at an all time high of 612,641 tonnes, valued at Rs.83 billion ($2.1 billion).

Close to two million people in the country earn their livelihood from the seafood industry.

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