Shrimp farmers in India are facing a double whammy this winter, as buyers in a glutted global market are offering prices that are below farmers’ production costs, and farms ravaged by Cyclone Titli in October now face disease outbreaks.
As reported by Undercurrent and Intrafish, the 2019 forecast for supply from India's shrimp producers is down, with one source estimating supply in the production year ending 31 March 2019, to be 620.000-650.000 tonnes, down from an initial estimate of 700.000 tonnes. This is attributed in part to below-cost prices offered by shrimp buyers in advance of the winter holidays, Easter, and other peak consumption periods, leading farmers to reduce their pond seeding levels. Farmers in some areas are being offered USD 6,50 per kilo, when their costs are as high as USD 7,00 per kilo.
The lower supply forecast is also due to collateral effects of the cyclone, including a series of disease outbreaks hitting shrimp farms especially in the hard-hit eastern Indian State of Odisha, as well as parts of northern Andhra Pradesh, and West and South Bengal. The spread of white spot virus is “very severe” in some areas, adding to the costs from damaged or destroyed farms and roads and other infrastructure. Odisha accounts for only 7% of India’s supply, so national production isn’t heavily affected by the cyclone, but locally the damage is great. On the positive side (for farmers), the forecast supply reduction means processors who must meet seasonal supply contracts with buyers will have to raise their prices offered to farmers.