soybean field

USSEC India Conducts Blue Paper Forum – India Aquaculture Pathfinder

Logo - Blue paper forum

USSEC India’s aquaculture program conducted a national Blue Paper Forum (BPF), “India Aquaculture Pathfinder,” on February 5 and 6 in Bangalore.  The objective of this national event was to produce a focused five-year aquaculture road map that will be made available to all stakeholders for further developing aquaculture in India.  The USSEC team is in favor of having an internal plan for USSEC operations and also a similar, parallel, broader plan for the industry so that both can work together to yield optimal results.
The BPF’s theme, “India Aquaculture Pathfinder,” clarified the mission of bringing change via fostering industry diversity through exposure and interactions at the two-day event.  The event boasted about 250 participants with representation from 15 Indian states.  BPF was a unique event with no presentations because it was built on the fact that all attendees had experience and were valuable resources who can make a difference to aquaculture.  The debates, discussions and suggestions were moderated in a parliamentary style and were recorded for future use as an implementation tool.  About 40 different blue paper points were pre-collected through communication exchanges made through messages, WhatsApp messenger, emails and phone calls over a period of one month.  These were reviewed at the session, prioritized and debated upon.
Chief guests included ministers representing the state governments of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which are both provinces in southern India.  A vice-chancellor from a state university presided over the event.
The event received an excellent response from different facets of Indian aquaculture, including a significant representation from state and central government organizations and universities.  Industry representatives were comprised of entrepreneurs and experts from the aquaculture value chain (fish and shrimp hatcheries, farms, feed mills and processing plants, marketing firms and bankers).  USSEC India aquaculture consultant R. Umakanth stated that the industry is always eager to implement any advanced tested technologies that can provide a return on investment, which is why participants showed such a keen interest in attending the BPF.
Other noteworthy national organizations that participated include FAS’s agriculture specialist in New Delhi and the Professional Fisheries Graduates Forum (PFGF), which co-organized the event.  The Society of Aquaculture Professionals (SAP), Chennai provided its experience to moderate some of the sessions and contributed to the blue paper.  The Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers Association of India (CLFMA) planned its general body meetings to align with the BPF; because CLFMS is so actively involved in the aquafeed segment and in industry growth, the organization is always helpful in activities to further develop India’s aquaculture industry.  The Soybean Processors Association (SOPA), Indore answered questions related to soymeal as a protein input into shrimp and fish feeds.  SOPA believes that the Indian aquaculture industry will need more protein inputs to produce fish protein for the country.  The country’s current usage is at 0.50 million tons and is predicted to continue increasing.
From the time that USSEC invested in India’s aquaculture program, the program has made steady, measurable progress and has emerged as a relatively new avenue positioned for utilizing soymeal.  Assessing the program, USSEC India’s Director for Animal, Aquaculture and Soymeal program, P.E. Vijay Anand states that two five-year plans have been already executed successfully and have resulted in raising the soymeal utilization volume from a negligible position to about half a million tons currently.  He adds that the recently concluded Global Strategy and QSSB Educational Opportunity meeting in San Diego provided the basis to design the next phase of the plan for aquaculture in the Asian subcontinent (India and Bangladesh), which targets a soy meal consumption mark of 1 million tons by 2017/18.
In addition to BPF achieving its primary objective (the development of the blue paper), it also acted as a platform for aquaculture stakeholders to meet, refresh contacts and look for opportunities where they could help each other or learn newer approaches.  USSEC’s primary objective was to ensure that all participants came away with refreshed aquaculture developmental views.  USSEC would like to see the BPF emerge as a landmark event for the Indian aquaculture industry.