The Covid-19 pandemic and sluggish overseas markets have hit the resurgent seafood sector in Odisha with exports dipping by around 10 per cent in the last fiscal.
The Covid-19 pandemic and sluggish overseas markets have hit the resurgent seafood sector in Odisha with exports dipping by around 10 per cent (pc) in the last fiscal.
Production has also dropped significantly since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March last year.
According to the data shared by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), 60,718 tonne of marine products worth Rs 3,107.68 crore ($422.46 million) were exported from the State in 2020-21 against 66,654 tonne worth Rs 3,243.29 crore ($464.91 million) in 2019-20.
Exports had been on a continuous upward trend, growing from Rs 500 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 3,250 in 2019-20 till the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Exports to China, USA and European Union (EU) have been badly hit.
While the business has shrunk by nearly 27 pc in China, it has dropped by over 16 pc in the US and seven pc in EU. Frozen shrimp, which contributed 99.2 pc (60,235 tonne) in quantity and 99.7 pc ($421.48 million) of the total dollar earnings, declined by 7.5 pc and 8.7 pc respectively.
The US remained the largest importer of seafood (19,268 tonne) followed by China (17,417 tonne), South East Asia (11,393), Japan (6,357 tonne), EU (3,290 tonne) and the Middle East (944 tonne).
As per MPEDA, the export of chilled items, frozen fish, cuttlefish, squid and frozen shrimp has come down by 100 pc, 78 pc, 22 pc, 18 pc and 7.5 pc respectively. Not a single kilo of chilled items was exported last fiscal even as 53 tonne were imported by countries in 2019-20. Odisha Seafood Exporters Association (OSEA) feared the impact of the second wave and a possible third wave would be more this year.
“The pandemic drastically affected seafood exports during the first half of the last fiscal. The export declined for the first time in last one decade. The contraction in the market has a huge consequential effect on working capital, bank finance and jobs,” pointed out OSEA president Kamalesh Mishra.
As the consumption has declined in the Covid-affected countries, China and European countries have been harassing the exporters in terms of payments and sample tests for antibiotics.
They alleged China has been forcing them to negotiate prices and rejecting payments of exporters citing that dead cells of coronavirus are found. Some countries are even going for 50 pc sample tests delaying the process, they said.
The crop and stocking of shrimps have also been affected owing to the prevailing situation and the cyclone Yaas. An estimated over Rs 800 crore of shrimp has been destroyed in the recent cyclone in four coastal districts.