MPEDA, Switzerland’s COOP in pact for organic aqua farming

To cater to the growing demand for organic seafood products across the European Union, COOP Cooperative — one of Switzerland’s biggest retail and wholesale companies — has partnered with the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) to develop export-oriented organic aqua farming in India.

Mpeda will assist in identifying entrepreneurs and providing them with technical advice on the production of high-quality organic shrimp that meet national and international certification protocols.

COOP, which today has nearly 2,200 sales outlets throughout Switzerland and wholesale/production business across Europe, has offered to procure the processed organic shrimp at a premium of up to 15 per cent and with an additional 5 per cent through financing for development activities, including training.

The pilot project will be run in Kerala to produce organic black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) initially in 1,000 hectares, and if successful, extended to other locations across the country.

According to A Jayathilak, Chairman, Mpeda, there is an increased awareness across Europe about organic produce and it constitutes a niche market. The reason why many farmers are hesitant to get into organic production is the increased costs involved. The premium price offered will offset the extra cost and incentivise them to explore organic farming.

Mpeda and COOP will facilitate the certification of a shrimp hatchery for the production of organic shrimp seed and similarly certify and empanel a small scale feed mill unit to source the organic feed for the project.

Gerard Zurlutter, Member of Management, COOP, said India would be their second leg in organic farming after Vietnam, where they have had success with similar projects and organic producers who are generating considerably higher revenues than conventional farmers.