The EU is one of India’s top buyers of shrimps. Export Inspection Council (EIC) have taken a number of important steps to improve vigilance and testing of seafood to stop faulty consignments. the traceability software for seafood implemented by the country and new methods put in place to carry out inspections will be shared with the officials from Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) which is responsible for the EU Commission’s policies on health and food safety. The EU decision to increase testing of samples from 10 percent to 50 per cent and blacklist exporters whose consignments fail quality tests.

India’s marine exports increased to $6.12 billion in 2016-17, a 9.83 per cent increase from $5.57 billion in the previous year. The EU accounts for about 18 percent of marine exports from the country with Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain being among the top buyers.

Indian aquaculture production is estimated to touch a record seven lakh tonnes during the current fiscal and reach one million tonne by 2020, N Padmanabhan, president, Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) said. He added the total seafood exports would reach Rs 40,000 crores by the end of the fiscal.

“India has the potential to become a seafood superpower and the goal of 20% growth or doubling of the export volumes will not be as difficult if we tap into this potential fully,” he added. In 2016-17 India exported 11,34,948 MT of seafood, principally frozen shrimp and frozen fish, worth Rs 37,870.90 crore. Provisional export figures for April-November 2017 have shown an increase of 18.72% and 15.16% respectively, in volume and value (in $) of seafood exports.

Since independence, India has come a long way from being a food-deficit to a food surplus country. With its varied agro-climatic conditions and large production base, the country has become a leading exporter of fresh and processed food products. The Indian government is keen to promote exports of fresh and processed food products and, in recent years, the government has come up with several reforms and schemes to support exports. The Indian government is also undertaking policies and schemes for supporting sustainable agriculture practices and is encouraging organic farming. Despite these efforts, Indian exporters of agricultural products continue to face rejections and bans in key markets and most of these are related to non-compliance with food safety and health standards. Such non-compliance is because of several reasons including pest infestations, presence of chemical residues that are banned by the importing country’s national food law, higher than maximum approved levels of chemical residue and food contamination due to germination of bacteria. Rejection and/or bans have not only led to loss of income for exporters, farmers and processors, but also loss of market to exporters from other developing countries who are able to meet the food safety and health standards of importing countries.

To ensure continued demand for seafood from the European Union, India will showcase the new measures implemented by it to improve vigilance and testing to assure the bloc that all steps were being taken to ensure that consignments meet the required quality standards. The EU is one of India’s top buyers of shrimps.

“We are worried about the EU decision to increase testing of samples from 10 percent to 50 per cent and blacklist exporters whose consignments fail quality tests. We have taken a number of important steps to improve vigilance and testing of seafood to stop faulty consignments at our end. Detailed presentation would be made by the Export Inspection Council (EIC) officials from India to their counterparts in the EU on these measures,” sources informed.

Information on the traceability software for seafood implemented by the country and new methods put in place to carry out inspections will be shared with the officials from Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) which is responsible for the EU Commission’s policies on health and food safety.

“The meeting will take place during the global seafood show in Brussels later this month,” the official said. This is part of a routine exchange of information but this year it is more important for India to make a good impression as the EU has expressed its dissatisfaction with exports from India by tightening its rules on inspections and black-listing.

India’s marine food exporters have been arguing that the EU’s decision to increase the sample size from 10 percent to 50 percent for testing the seafood consignments from India, while keeping it at 10 per cent for other countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh was unfair. They also want the EU to give a warning to an erring exporter whose consignment may have some quality related problem instead of banning the exporter outright.

 

Chander Mohan

Krishi Jagran/New Delhi



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