Applying blockchain technology to aquaculture
The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is about to utilise blockchain technologies to address growing problems of antibiotics used in aquaculture, aiming to monitor the entire chain of culture and processing, reports JK Kumar.
The state fisheries department is about to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) to launch a pilot project. State fisheries commissioner Rama Shankar Naik said that by using blockchain technology, the entire supply chain can be tracked from the location of the pond, through the process of the culture and post harvesting, with details recorded and monitored to ensure quality standards.
Initially, the state will be launching the pilot project with the help of MPEDA and Tata Trust to monitor the entire supply chain of shrimp cultivation. This is not the first time the state has adopted blockchain, as Andhra Pradesh already became the first state in India to use this for land records and transport back in October 2017, when the state chief minister, N Chandrababu Naidu announced that the state would embrace blockchain in its administration.
According to state fisheries commissioner Naik, the pilot is likely to be launched in Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari districts initially in collaboration with Tata Trusts, which has partnered with a start-up company Algorythmix for the preparation of a platform to implement the pilot project in the State. It is then planned to be extended to other districts based on the response from shrimp exporters.
This move is seen as vital, as although Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer and exporter of shrimps to the European Union, US and Japan, it has seen rejection rates close to 60% and the US and the EU have threatened to ban Indian shrimps if concerns related to antibiotics in shrimps are not resolved. The EU, US, and Japan are the major importers of shrimp from Andhra Pradesh. The pilot project has additional significance in the light of the US making traceability of all seafood mandatory under the Seafood Import Monitoring Programme (SIMP), starting this year.
A state official looking after exports, who declined to be named, said that by using blockchain in shrimp farms all the records pertaining to supply chains will be checked that will help the farmers to maintain compliance with exporting standards, adding that this technology will also help farmers adopt better practices, eventually leading to better exports. This will also help farmers getting a better price for their produce from exporters, the official explained.
Andhra Pradesh has opted to spend $56 million during the 2018-19 fiscal year on the fisheries sector to encourage compliance with export standards. With more than 970km of coastline and vast scope for seafood production, the state contributes 7.4% share in the Gross State Domestic Production (GSDP), as well as being responsible for 24.24% of the country’s fisheries production and providing livelihood to 1.45 million people. The state is also the largest shrimp producer, with approximately 66% of national production.
In order to boost further boost the aquaculture sector, the State government is also seeking collaboration with various countries to adopt international practices and held discussions with organisations from Singapore, Netherlands, Vietnam and other countries. Andhra Pradesh is seeking collaboration in sectors such as farming, hatcheries, processing, value addition, cold-chain development and feed technology, which it believes will help the state to increase aquaculture production further and also provide more opportunities to farmers in exports.
In addition, the state is forging a deep sea fishing joint partnership with Vietnam to work on tuna fishing and value-added products.
The Andhra Pradesh state fisheries department has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with USA-based Fishin Company for increasing the production of genetically improved farmed tilapia, along with a tie-up with the Netherlands in feed technology and cold-chain development.
With huge demand for seafoods in the international market, the state government is promoting practices such as simplifying procedures for registration of aqua farms through the state-run Mee-seva service, permitting aquaculture in government wastelands also known was DKT lands given to landless people for the sole purpose of cultivation, and a cluster approach at primary producer level in the existing 181 aqua clusters occupying 127,000 hectares.
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