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Aquaculture Industry: The Present Scenario And Investment Opportunities India holds a strong position in the industry at a global level. However, the industry is yet to overcome several infrastructure and technological challenges

By Prasanna Manogaran

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Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Given the opportunities in the sector, the Indian aquaculture industry has grown six-fold in the past two decades. With 2.36 million hectares of ponds and tanks, a coastline of 7,500 km, and a brackish water area of 1.1 million, India is recognized as the second-largest country in the aquaculture sector.

According to the recent market data, the global aquaculture production is 80 million tonnes with China being the largest producer in the world that produces 49 million tonne of seafood and India stands at the production of 5 million tonne.

Given the valuation, India holds a strong position in the industry at a global level. However, the industry is yet to overcome several infrastructure and technological challenges in order to scale the supply. Being a hub of disruptive startups, the Indian ecosystem is transforming the industry with innovative solutions. This brings attractive opportunities for investors to invest their resources in a sector that needed to undergo the transformationfor decades.

Agritech startups offering supply chain solutions

Though India is potentially one of the largest producers in the aquaculture industry, it faces several challenges when it comes to supply in the domestic market. The entire system of handling the produce requires modernization and hygienic facilities to contribute significantly to the sectors' transformation. Many agritech startups promoting aquaculture are coming up with handling facilities that are equipped with a robust safety mechanism in the domestic market. It plays a crucial role in setting up an efficient supply chain structure that uplifts the industry to keep up with a strong global position. Thus, investors are keen on investing in startups and companies that could meet the need for adopting innovative supply chain solutions to ensure the produce reaches the consumer in the most hygienic and nutritious way. This further helps the farmers in getting a fair price for their produce.

Dependence of aquaculture on Vannamei

Talking about the brackishwater aquaculture, Tiger shrimp P. monodon has been the mainstay in India and other southeast Asian countries. However, due to the significant decline in the production of P. monodon, the culture of P. vannamei was introduced in India. This has resulted in a dramatic growth of farmed shrimp with 90,000 MT production of P. vannameiin 2010 to 270,819 MT in 2013-14.

Presently, there are two species of shrimp and a few species of finfish being cultivated in the country. However, several other species of shrimp, finfish, and crabs are found to have the potential for commercial cultivation. Furthermore, many species of finfish, crustaceans, and molluscs are also available and yet to be commercialized as aquaculture species. Additionally, mud crabs and species of Scylla, are one of the most sought-after seafood commodities in the global market. Thus, the Indian aquaculture industry can be groundbreaking if it manages to commercialize a large number of new species.

On the other hand, carp, catfish, prawns, and ornamental fish form the important components of freshwater culture practices. Thus, a large number of new species like pangas, tilapia, pabda, magur, murrels, anabas, and minor carps have also been added to the production system of the country to promote aquaculture practices.

Understanding pond ecology and productivity

For farmers to continue with their farming activities, new-age entrepreneurs and industry influencers need to understand the pond ecology & productivity. The microbial dynamics and nutrient flow interaction are necessary to manage soil and water quality using safeand cost-effective methods like probiotics, RAS, and biofloc technologies. This is potentially considered as a great opportunity for increasing the production from the unit area.

Additionally, feed is an important component in the Aquaculture industry. In India,currently, the aquaculture sector uses nearly 20% of the total available concentrated feed.Farm-made aquafeed plays an important role in the production of low valued freshwater fish species. More than 97% of the carp feeds used by Indian farmers are farm-made aquafeeds and they are the mainstay of feed inputs. At present, about 7 million tonnes of ingredients are being used for farm-made fish production. The total volume of manufactured feed sold in the country in 2010 was 60,000 T of pelleted fish feed and 3,72,000 T of extruded floating feed. Thus, innovative agri-tech entrepreneurs are also addressing related challenges that are responsibly going to improve the production of farmers.

The advancement in the aquaculture industry has already started reaching new horizons. The aggressive efforts of startups, investors, and accelerators are going to make the sector sustainable. Thus, with better investment opportunities available at present, the health of the aquaculture industry will be improved with the integration of new-age technologies, smart solutions, and government initiatives.

Prasanna Manogaran

Founder of Aqgromalin

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