India's aquaculture industry has been growing at an average annual rate of 8%, fuelled by increasing domestic and international demand
The Indian government has been proactive in promoting aquaculture development, with significant funding allocated towards the Blue Revolution Scheme
The integration of technology throughout the aquaculture value chain has played a vital role in India's seafood export achievements
India, a country blessed with an abundant coastline and freshwater resources, has witnessed remarkable growth in its aquaculture industry over the years. According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, India’s aquaculture sector has been growing at an average annual rate of 8% since 2015. This growth is fueled by increasing consumer demand, both domestically and internationally. In 2022, India’s seafood exports reached a record high of $7.08 Bn, showcasing the sector’s immense potential.
Fish and shrimp are two of the most significant species produced in India’s aquaculture sector. As per the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), India’s shrimp production has grown at a rate of 10% per annum over the past five years, with a total production of 700K metric tonnes in 2022. Similarly, fish production has grown at a rate of 8% per annum over the same period, with a total production of 1,200 metric tonnes in 2022.
Government’s Push To Aid India’s Aquaculture Industry
The Indian government has been proactive in promoting the development of both fish and shrimp production. The National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) and the MPEDA have implemented policies and provided financial support to enhance the sector’s growth. The government has allocated significant funding for the development of aquaculture infrastructure and technology adoption. In the fiscal year 2022-2023, the government allocated approximately INR 1,800 Cr towards the Blue Revolution Scheme, which focuses on the sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
In recent years, the adoption of technology in Indian aquaculture has witnessed an impressive upsurge. Various modern farm management systems have replaced traditional practices, resulting in improved productivity and sustainability. According to a survey conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), over 60% of aquaculture farmers have adopted technology-driven practices, leading to an average increase in yield of 25-30% and a reduction in feed conversion ratios of 10-15%.
How Tech Integration Has Helped Propel Growth
One of the key areas where data analytics has proven instrumental is in farm management systems. IoT devices and sensors deployed in aquaculture farms gather real-time data on critical parameters such as water quality, oxygen levels, and feed management. By analysing this data, farmers can gain valuable insights into the health and well-being of their fish or shrimp populations, enabling proactive measures to prevent disease outbreaks and optimise feed utilisation. This data-driven approach has not only reduced production risks but has also led to significant cost savings for farmers.
Furthermore, data analytics, coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have revolutionised aquaculture practices in India. AI-powered systems, coupled with extensive data analysis, enable farmers to make informed decisions and predict market trends. For instance, a study conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) found that the implementation of AI algorithms in disease detection resulted in a 40% reduction in losses due to disease outbreaks, saving farmers an estimated INR 500 Cr annually.
Innovative farming methods have also gained prominence in Indian aquaculture. Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), characterised by advanced filtration and water treatment mechanisms, have gained traction due to their ability to maintain optimal water conditions while minimising water usage. According to the MPEDA, the adoption of RAS technology has increased by 35% in the past three years, contributing to improved water management and a reduction of up to 90% in water consumption compared to traditional pond-based systems.
Furthermore, genetics and breeding programmes have played a pivotal role in enhancing the quality and productivity of aquaculture species in India. Selective breeding and genetic engineering techniques have contributed to the development of disease-resistant, fast-growing, and high-yielding fish varieties. As per the NFDB, the adoption of genetically improved fish varieties has increased by 20% in the past five years, resulting in a substantial increase in production efficiency and profitability for farmers.
India’s Diversified Aquaculture Export Portfolio
The growth in fish and shrimp production has also had a significant impact on India’s seafood exports. In 2022, India exported approximately 14,78,000 metric tonnes of seafood, valued at $7.08 Bn. Shrimp exports accounted for a significant portion of the total, with a value of $4.6 Bn, making India one of the largest shrimp exporters globally. The adoption of technology-driven practices, such as improved farming techniques and efficient supply chain management, has played a crucial role in meeting international quality standards and ensuring the delivery of high-quality seafood products to global markets.
Furthermore, the Indian aquaculture industry has been diversifying its export portfolio beyond shrimp. Fish exports have also witnessed a steady growth trajectory. In 2022, India exported fish and fish preparations worth $2.48 Bn. Popular fish species for export include Indian mackerel, ribbonfish, tuna, and pomfret. The adoption of advanced technologies in fish breeding, processing, and preservation has helped maintain the quality and freshness of fish products, contributing to their growing demand in international markets.
What’s Ahead For The Industry?
The integration of technology throughout the aquaculture value chain has played a vital role in facilitating these export achievements. Robust cold chain infrastructure, including modern processing facilities and cold storage units, has enabled the preservation of seafood quality during transportation. Ecommerce platforms and online marketplaces have connected Indian aquaculture farmers directly to global buyers, simplifying the export process and expanding market reach. These technological advancements, coupled with stringent quality control measures and sustainable practices, have enhanced India’s reputation as a reliable and responsible seafood exporter.
While technology has been instrumental in transforming Indian aquaculture and boosting exports, challenges remain. Ensuring the availability of affordable and reliable technology to small and medium-sized farmers, promoting skill development programmes to enhance technological literacy, and addressing regulatory frameworks to govern technology adoption are crucial factors for long-term success. Collaboration between government agencies, research institutions, and private enterprises will be key to addressing these challenges and creating an enabling environment for the sustainable growth of the Indian aquaculture industry.
As the Indian aquaculture sector continues to embrace technology and innovate, it is well-positioned to capitalise on its immense potential. By leveraging technology-driven solutions and adopting sustainable practices, India can further enhance its domestic seafood production, meet rising consumer demand, and solidify its position as a global leader in aquaculture. Through a collaborative approach and continued investment in technological advancements, India’s aquaculture industry is poised to play a vital role in ensuring food security, driving economic growth, and promoting sustainable development for the nation.