Aquaculture industry sceptical about budget sops impact
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Kolkata: Even though the Union budget announced the launch of a new sub-scheme under the PM Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) with a targeted additional investment of Rs 6,000 crore and a reduction in customs duties on shrimp feed raw material imports, the aquaculture and feeds industry remains sceptical.

The government has proposed a reduction in import duty to 5 per cent from 15 per cent for the key raw materials for shrimp feed.

“The additional Rs 6,000 crore in the PMMSY is supplementary to the existing Rs 20,000 crore scheme announced in 2020. Definitely, it will go a long way to deepen the reach of the scheme.

“However, the scheme suffers from the limitation of putting a low cap in most of the programmes which are prohibiting growth of the sector,” Seafood Exporters Association of India, West Bengal chapter president Rajarshi Banerji told PTI.

Citing an example, he stated that the scheme provides cold storage with a maximum capacity of 50 tonnes at a maximum cost of Rs 1.5 crore, which is grossly inadequate for players in the industry and ought to be at least 10 times higher than the cap that is currently in place.

The scheme offers a 60 per cent subsidy for SCT/ST and 40 per cent for others up to the project cost of Rs 1.5 crore.

Animal and fish feed manufacturer Anmol Feeds Ltd Managing Director Amit Saraogi said that the fine print of the Rs 6,000 crore PMMSY scheme has to be seen with its applicability and implementation. The scheme requires matching support from the state government which can cause hindrances in its smooth rollout.

Saraogi stated that the government’s decision to reduce customs duties was correct, but imports only account for about 5 per cent of the total production of feed. Therefore, a farmer’s overall cost will not have any significant impact by the price reduction.

Banerji, however, said the government must ensure that duty reduction benefits are passed on to the shrimp farmers.

In 2021-22, national aquaculture exports were USD 8.5 billion, of which 85-90 per cent was shrimp. West Bengal shrimp export industry is worth Rs 8000 crore.

India’s fish production increased from 141.64 lakh tonnes in 2019-20 to 161.87 lakh tonnes (provisional) in 2021-22.

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