India’s farmed shrimp sector in 2020: A White Paper

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A summary of the white paper released on February 22, 2021 by the Society of Aquaculture Professionals which outlined actions needed to address the current and future challenges for sustainable growth of the industry to reach a target of 1.4 million tonnes by 2024.

The white paper is the result of virtual meetings held among industry stakeholders on January 29-30, 2021 organised by the Society of Aquaculture Professionals, India (SAP). Farmed shrimp production in India for 2020 had declined by 19% from a record production of nearly 800,000 tonnes in 2019 to about 650,000 tonnes. While the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown contributed to the decline, continuing production challenges due to a host of disease problems had impacted production quite significantly.

Region Estimated production in 2020 (tonnes)
West Bengal 50,000
Odisha 55,000
Northern Andhra Pradesh (Srikakulam to East Godavari districts) 126,000
West Godavari 135,000
Krishna 70,000
Southern Andhra Pradesh (Guntur to Nellore districts) 106,400
Tamil Nadu 21,000
Gujarat 23,400
Other States* 7,000
Unaccounted** 56,125
Total 650,000
* The states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Specific reviews of farmed shrimp production in 2020 in these states were not conducted in 2021. Instead, production estimates for 2019 were used to arrive at the 2020 figures.** SAP estimates from the export figures published by the Government that the total farmed production would have been between 630,000 to 670,000 tonnes. The large variance is due to the uncertainty in production that reaches domestic markets. The average figure of 650,000 tonnes is taken as a reasonable estimate of national production in 2020 and the difference between what was estimated for all production regions and 650,000 tonnes is presented as the unaccounted figure.  

The white paper recommendations include the following actions by stakeholders and government for farmed shrimp production to grow sustainably and achieve the target of 1.4million tonnes by 2024:

  • Resolve shrimp health issues on a priority basis:

– Continue to fund and strengthen the national aquatic animal disease surveillance program with an exclusive focus on shrimp.
– Undertake epidemiological and other studies to understand the extent and causes of white faecal
disease (WFD), running mortality syndrome (RMS) and other emerging diseases in shrimp farming and to develop treatments.

  • Increase carrying capacity of the ecosystems that support shrimp production:
    – Educate farmers on best aquaculture practices to enhance carrying capacity of their production
    systems and minimise organic loading of effluents.

– Dredging of creeks supplying water to the farms and take steps to enhance tidal flow to improve water quality.

Expand and diversify markets:
– Develop or participate in a global program to promote shrimp consumption in the major overseas markets, especially in the USA.

–Regain export markets, especially in Europe and Japan.

– Invest in the “ Made in India Shrimp” branding.

– Develop the domestic market.

Farmed shrimp production in major regions

SAP’s members from the major shrimp farming regions of the country estimated regional production figures as in the table. 

West Bengal and Odisha

Shrinibas Mohanty, Avanti Feeds estimated that West Bengal and Odisha registered a 15-20% decline in
production; West Bengal was more impacted than Odisha. Stocking in these states normally start in mid-February and continued till end April. However, during the lockdown and reduced availability of post larvae, most stocking was during May-June 2020. Incidences of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) was higher and more severe. There was a high incidence of RMS in the second half of the year resulting in lower production.

Andhra Pradesh

V. Punnaivanam, The Waterbase Limited, said that in the northern Andhra Pradesh districts, from Srikakulam to East Godavari, farmed shrimp production declined by about 16% in 2020. Most of the production losses were due to panic harvests during the early stages of lockdown and subsequent disruptions. The region performed better in the last six months of 2020 compared to the first half of
the year and the last six months of 2019. Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) microsporidian spread mostly in low saline areas. However, farmers who invested in infrastructure for improved biosecurity had good results in the control of EHP and WFD, even in high saline ponds. Farmers switched to shorter and more frequent crops. Combined with controlled feeding, this practice reduced the feed conversion ratio (FCR) and production costs.

West Godavari produces the most farmed shrimp, more than any other states, but there was around 20% drop in production in 2020. In the adjoining district of Krishna which also produces large volumes of shrimp, the drop was estimated to be about 10%. Dr Bangaru Ravikumar, Growel Feeds, said that arriving at precise production estimates in both these districts is challenging due to the practice of polyculture of shrimp with fish in low saline ponds. While lockdown was partly to blame for the production losses, other factors were weather related, particularly the premature drop in temperature in the last six months of the year. Associated were increases in incidences of WSSV which also contributed to the production decline. The persistence of EHP and WFD in the two districts was more of a concern than WSSV. While the problems were less in low salinity waters, the practice of multiple crops without raining the water and drying the pond bottom in between crops led to production challenges.

Kumaresan, Sheng Long Bio-tech India Pvt. Ltd. reported that the dry weather over the past years in the southern districts of Andhra Pradesh resulted in poor water quality in creeks and borewells. However, there was good rainfall in 2020 which led to an overall increase in production. Premature harvest prior to the cyclone Nivar and the high incidence of WSSV post-cyclone reduced production to a certain extent in the second crop

Tamil Nadu

Kumaresan said that Tamil Nadu, with about 2,700ha of production area, had an estimated production increase of 17% in 2020. This was attributed to sufficient rains in the state. Stocking density was higher than the national average; 41-60% of the farms stocked at 40-60 PL/m2. With lower disease incidences, the state recorded a high productivity close to 4 tonnes/ha/cycle.


Jignesh Contractor, Vaishnavi Aquatech presented data from Gujarat, the major shrimp farming state in the west coast of India. In the past few years, Gujarat’s production dropped from its peak of nearly 50,000 tonnes in 2017 to23,000 tonnes in 2020.

Due to cooler weather, with rains in the middle of the growing season, most farmers only produce one crop a year. Its dependence on post larvae supply from hatcheries in the east coast and the shortage of migrant labour due to the pandemic were some of the reasons for the decline in production. The rapid expansion of farming in the past decade was another reason for the decline. Many farmers have nurseries and some of them are successful.

The introduction of disease resistant lines in 2020 helped in crop management amidst disease outbreaks. Black tiger shrimp is always favoured in the state since production is restricted to one crop a year.  Jignesh predicted that the availability of specific pathogen free (SPF) black tiger shrimp in 2021 will result in large scale trials, but farmers would still prefer to go for shorter crops of 110-120 days to minimise their risk.

Production factors in 2020

Photo credit: Ramesh Arji, Growel Feeds

A survey of regional trends in production by contributors of the 2020 review revealed the following:

•Stocking density in most regions was mainly in the20-40 PL/m2range. Only in the southern districts of Andhra Pradesh and in the states of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, it was in the 41-60PL/m2range.

•Crop durations were shortened to 110 days and even 90 days in most production regions. Wherever feasible, farmers did three crops a year or even four crops.

•Most production were for size 10-16g (61-100 count)while West Bengal and Odisha produced primarily16-25g shrimp  (41-60 count) and Gujarat targeted production of 25-33g shrimp (31-40 count)

•All regions reported that diseases are the most challenging during production. Less than 25%of production losses were due to diseases, said respondents from West Bengal, Odisha, Southern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Respondents from Gujarat, Northern Andhra Pradesh, West Godavari and Krishna said that 25-50% of production losses were due to diseases. WSSV was considered the most problematic, while EHP and WFD were ranked to be#2 and #3 concerns by those in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. RMS was ranked to be the #2 concern in West Bengal and Odisha where EHP was ranked to be the #4 concern.

•Lockdown and farmgate prices of shrimp were flagged to be the most challenging aspects of production in2020 by 75% of the respondents

•Cost of production was considered as a key constraint by 50% of respondents. Those in West Godavari, Southern Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat said that cost of production was a challenge.

•Availability of credit was identified as a major challenge by respondents from Gujarat, West Bengal and Odisha.

•Respondents predicted that West Bengal, Odisha, Northern and Southern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu may produce more shrimp in 2021 as compared to 2020. West Godavari may maintain production as in 2020 and Gujarat may register a further decline in 2021.

Sectorial assessments


The new hatchery of Vaisakhi Bio- marine Pvt. Ltd in Pondicherry, India. There are more than 500 shrimp hatcheries in India which produced 70 billion post larvae in 2020

Ravi Kumar Yellanki, Vaisakhi Bio-marine Pvt. Ltd. and Vaisakhi Bio-Resources Pvt. Ltd, said that the more than 500 shrimp hatcheries in India produced 70 billion post larvae in 2020 despite the lockdown causing disruptions in the import of brood stock and vital supplies such as blood worms. About 70 large hatcheries accounted for about 57% of the production. The sector imported 252,000broodstock in 2020. Less shrimp production in 2020brought down the shrimp productivity index (tonnes/million PL), from 11.18 in 2019 to 9.28 in 2020 and is a cause for concern. In 2021, he expects the hatchery sector to produce around the same quantity of post larvae as in2020 and post larvae prices to be stable but remain low.

Ravi Kumar Yellanki expects the 2021 production of post larvae to be at 70 billion  as in  2020, and post larvae prices to be stable but remain low.
Jignesh Contractor said that in Gujarat, the introduction of disease resistant lines in 2020 helped in crop management amidst disease outbreaks
Dr Bangaru Ravikumar, Growel Feeds, said that in West Godavari and Krishnan districts, hile lockdown was partly to blame for the production losses, other factors were weather related and increases in outbreaks of WSSV












Shrimp health management

Dr Shankar Alavandi, Central Institute of Brackish water Aquaculture (CIBA) said that disease surveillance by CIBA indicated a rise in non-infectious diseases like WFD and RMS in farmed shrimp in 2020. CIBA estimated that EHP and WFD caused losses of around INR4,000 crores(USD551 million) and INR1,700 crores (USD234 million), respectively.

Dr A.S. Shahul Hameed at the OIE Reference Lab, Abdul Hakeem College said that the new strain of WSSV discovered in 2015 appears to be unique to India. It has a short replication time and therefore is highly virulent. D. Ramraj, President of the All India Shrimp Hatchery Association (AISHA) drew attention to the increasing occurrence of shrimp showing necrotic muscle tissues. He also expressed concern about the emergence of slow growth in many farming areas and asked that farmers go back to basics like pond preparation. He asked the government to facilitate SPF polychaete production to improve biosecurity in hatcheries.

Bangaru Ravikumar shared data from the shrimp samples submitted to his company’s diagnostic labs. Incidence of EHP has been rising in the last three years while WSSV has been in retreat in the West Godavari and Krishna districts. Data on disease occurrences in southern Andhra Pradesh shared by Dr Patchala Srinivas of Avanti Feeds showed an increasing occurrence of white muscle disease.

Shrimp processing and exports

A panel with the participation of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), exporters and processors as well as SAP members addressed concerns on the competitiveness of India’s shrimp exports.

Nitin Awasthi, East India Securities highlighted India’s over dependence on the US market. Elias Sait, Secretary General of the Seafood Exporters Association of India(SEAI), was optimistic on the outlook for India’s export market although in 2020 the export sector had to tackle several challenges such as migrant labour crisis, short ages in the availability of containers and reduced access to the Chinese market. In his opinion, Ravi Kumar Yellanki said that Ecuador is not well placed to supply the US market because the country’s high labour cost does not allow it to be cost effective at value addition.

Photo credit: Ramesh Arji, Growel Feeds

MPEDA is implementing the National Residue Control Programme (NRCP) and monitors antibiotic residues in over 7,000 samples collected across the farmed shrimp value chain from hatchery, farm, feed and processing units. Anil Kumar, MPEDA, said Japan has removed the antibiotic testing for the export of black tiger shrimp from India. However, the requirement of many markets for frozen shrimp to be free of WSSV and other OIE listed diseases is emerging as a new market access challenge. 


The complete report-India’s Farmed Shrimp Sector in 2020: A WhitePaper. By the Society of Aquaculture Professionals ( availableonline. Questions and comments on the report can be sent to Dr Victor Suresh, President of SAP for the2020- 22 term at

This article was published in the print copy issue May/June 2021

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