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ICAR-CIBA Scientists Decode New Shrimp Variety for Lucrative Export Market

India's aquaculture sector is poised to make significant strides in genetic selection and breeding of shrimp, ensuring a steady supply of high-quality shrimp for both domestic consumption and export markets.

Shivam Dwivedi
ICAR-CIBA Scientists Decode New Shrimp Variety for Lucrative Export Market (Photo Source: Pixabay)
ICAR-CIBA Scientists Decode New Shrimp Variety for Lucrative Export Market (Photo Source: Pixabay)

Aquaculture scientists in India have achieved a significant breakthrough by decoding the genome of an indigenous variety of white shrimp known as P. indicus. This achievement is expected to not only make India self-reliant but also boost the country's export income, particularly in the seafood sector.

India's seafood exports are currently estimated at a substantial Rs42,000 crore. The aquaculture industry heavily relies on an imported species of Pacific white shrimp called Vannamei, which has been genetically improved over the years. Vannamei is the dominant species used globally for shrimp exports. In fact, farmed shrimp contributes to approximately 70% of India's seafood export market.

To reduce the dependence on a single species and promote indigenous varieties, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Institute for Brackishwater Aquaculture (ICAR-CIBA) has taken the initiative to prioritize the Indian white shrimp, P. indicus, under the Make in India flagship program. As part of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, the first phase of the project has been allocated Rs25.04 crore, with a total of Rs100 crore allocated overall.

Kuldeep Kumar Lal, the Director of CIBA, Chennai, highlighted the significance of reducing dependence on a single species and advocating for indigenous shrimp varieties to benefit the Indian shrimp industry and farmers. He expressed that the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Institute for Brackishwater Aquaculture (ICAR-CIBA) has designated the Indian white shrimp, P. indicus, as a national priority species under the Make in India flagship program. This decision aims to promote our indigenous species over exotic species, contributing to the betterment of the Indian shrimp industry and the welfare of shrimp farmers.

The complete decoding of the genome of P. indicus marks a significant achievement, as it is the first of its kind for this species. Akshaya Panigrahi, the principal scientist at ICAR-CIBA, highlighted the importance of this breakthrough in genetic selection of native shrimp. He explained that even prior to domestication, P. indicus has demonstrated its potential as a species with a production capacity of 3-7 tons per hectare per crop at moderate stocking density. Through the genetic improvement program, the scientists anticipate a genetic gain of 4-7% per generation, resulting in a doubling of productivity, improved feed conversion efficiency, and increased profitability for the farmers.

Dr. Panigrahi further emphasized that the new species of shrimp would establish India as a pioneer in selectively breeding Indian white shrimp and exporting it globally. According to the scientists, they believe that the genetically improved shrimp strain's potential will be further enhanced by adopting modern smart farming systems. It was stated by Dr. Panigrahi that a nuclear breeding center has been established, and all the necessary scientific support for genetic selection has been accomplished. Additionally, the genetic parameters of shrimps from various regions around the world have been mapped.

The need for self-reliance in shrimp farming became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when fish farmers faced difficulties in accessing mother shrimp for farming, leading to adverse impacts on their livelihoods. The successful decoding of the genome of P. indicus offers a promising solution to such challenges and paves the way for a more sustainable and profitable future for the Indian shrimp industry.

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