Representatives of the Indian seafood industry have said that in the light of the ban on five major Indian seafood units in the European Union, seafood exporters in the country are likely to focus their trade on the US market rather than Europe, according to a report from Business Line - India.
S. Sivakumar, chief executive of the ITC International Business Division said in an interview with Business Line that the US and Japan had higher tolerance for antibiotic traces and hence the exporters would concentrate on these markets. While the US would permit antibiotic traces to an extent of 5 parts per billion (ppb), Japan would allow up to 30 ppb. On the other hand, EU does not allow the presence of any antibiotic traces.
Stating that the five banned units were among the better seafood exporters in the country, he said the whole episode amounted to non-tariff barriers. In fact, the extent of antibiotic traces present in the consignments of these companies was naturally present in various other European Union food products.
Dissemination of these facts, he said, should be a part of efforts to counter such non-tariff barriers being imposed by the developed countries. It should try to prevail upon these countries regarding the realistic residue levels. A joint effort on the part of the Government as well as the industry was needed in this regard.
Sivakumar, however, said the solution to the problem did not lie in seeking laboratory certificates from farmers regarding non-usage of antibiotics. The proposal of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) to seek such a certificate was impracticable.
He said the problem brought to the fore the need for exercising a greater degree of control on the whole supply chain starting with stocking of seed by farmers. This would be a more pro-active step and "that is where our e-chaupals come into picture".
The ITC-IBD chief said SEAI should adopt an agenda that had both short-term and long-term action plans focusing on inspection of the supply chain right from farm level to the industry.