Aquaculture business has expanded all over the world significantly. As capture of fishery has been overexploited, there was significant decline in wild catch of fishes. Consequently, culture fisheries or aquaculture is being emphasized to cater the demand of fish protein and nutritional security. Due to some advantages enjoyed by fish in water, aquaculture is the cheapest source protein for human consumption compared to dairy and meat products. Further, this sector helps to attain food security and poverty alleviation as it generates income and employment. It is a fact that the development of aquaculture industry has been plagued by marketing problems globally. Effective marketing increases sales revenue, hence, gives incentive to production. Effective marketing means to deliver the right product, in right place, in right time. To decide effective marketing strategy it is first necessary to do market survey to ascertain what kind of product is to be marketed, consumer’s demand, tastes and preference, purchasing power, price, pro-duct quality, competition in the market, marketing place and distribution mechanism and ways to promote sales. Aquaculture marketing policy should consider all these factors.
Fish is a very perishable commodity and heterogeneous. In many developing countries as in India, Bangladesh, Nigeria fish farmers lack cold storage facilities, transporting facilities for fish marketing. In India aquaculture marketing structure is inefficient, unorganized and is regulated by private traders. Most of the fish farmers in India hold land below 4 to 5 ha and are poor. They do not avail loan for marketing from financing institutions for their poor loan repaying capacity and also for delay in granting loan. They sale their product to the Aratdar and/or auctioneer from whom they easily and instantly get loan at a high interest rate, in return they are bound to sale their product to them. Auctioneers collect fish from farmers through commission agents who charge commission of 5 to 10% of the sale value. In the auction market the wholesalers buy fish in bulk from the auctioneer and do the job of sorting, grading, cleaning, icing, packing before sale. This process creates value addition to the product raising fish prices.Wholesalers sale fishes to retailers at high prices keeping marketing margin which will reflect his percentage level of service provided in the channel. The retailers in the marketing channel do also the job of grading, sorting, icing, packing, display and dress the fishes which carries value addition leading to price rise and price spread in the fish market. The retailers directly sell to the consumers at a more higher price than the wholesaler’s price. As the retailer are in direct communication with the consumers, they can assess the local market consumers demand, their tastes and preferences for different types fishes, limitation in purchasing power Fish farmers are not informative of market trend and has less accessibility to distant fish market due to lack of refrigeration both in transport and local storage, unavailability of transport facilities and high transport cost. They have to depend on interme-diaries to sale their product and do not get the reasonable price, nearly 50% to 55% of consumers pay. The following is the fish marketing channel in India.
It has been observed that Channel I is more efficient than channel II, Channel III is less efficient than channel II. In Channel I, the farmer’s share is more than 90% of consumer’s payment where as in channel III it is nearly 50% to 55%.
Export of fish and fish products
So far as marketing in international market is concerned, it is not quite satisfactory. Exports of fish and fish products have shown steady growth over the last two decades in India. Total export value of marine aquaculture products in 2015-16 was over 4.7 billion Euros. Total fish export earnings in 2011-12 and 2012-13 are Rs 1583,689.57 lakh and 1807,127,57 lakh respectively, it raised to Rs 2944,901.41 lakh in 2013-14. India has comparative advantage in fish production but has lesser competitive advantage in world export market. Export of frozen shrimp constituted the largest item in the sea food export sector contributing nearly more than 54% of the total value of export. The exported products are mainly shrimps. The major export markets (2012) are primarily Southeast Asia (46.37%), followed by European Union (17.76%) and United States. Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are the main producer of brackish water shrimps. The entire volume of shrimp export from India until 1987-88 came from marine capture fisheries, after that its share had a declining trend. In 2013 -14 shrimp exports was $ 3.2 billion in which aquaculture share was $2.3 billion. The increase in export earnings from shrimp was due to fall in production and exports from other countries in Southeast Asia and the lowering of the countervailing duty on Indian shrimp in the United States.
The growth of shrimp trade brought a number of intermediaries in market chain and helped in inflow of private and informal credit into the fisheries sector. About 90% of the farmer in marine and brackish water aquaculture own less than 2 ha area and have difficulties obtaining finances for production and export.
Exporters of fishery products in India face problems of lack of market information, processing infrastructure, advanced technology in value addition, quality control and research and development. Only 40% of the production quantities satisfy the criterion for export and hence 60% of fish are sold away in the domestic market. Therefore, there is a need for improvement in quality.
In domestic fish marketing the fish farmers should form cooperative marketing which will help to get remunerative price and will give incentive to more production, increase in market share. Aquaculture production has increased sharply from 0.75 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 9.5 million tonnes in 2013-14. Yet it falls short of demand. The consumption demand for fish is still lagging behind supply.
Promoting sales of fish and fish product will give incentive to boost production. Programmes to encourage sale and increase in market share by influencing potential purchasers may be initiated through advertisement, food fairs and other sponsored events held to display new and traditional fish and fish product to purchasers. Government should also try to provide proper marketing infrastructure by building cold storage, improved transport facilities, processing facilities and financial assistance to the fish farmers for marketing.
It is found that the marketing system in freshwater aquaculture as well as in brackish water in India is not efficient. For operation of middlemen in the marketing channel both in domestic and international market, farmers are deprived and exploited. Development of marketing infrastructure with cold storage and transport facilities, improved processing technique, sales promotion, quality control and safety measures, provision of credit to fish farmers, fish marketing through Cooperative and Govt. aid to farmers will improve the present crisis of farmers and inefficient marketing system.
— Professor (Dr) Santana Jana
Former Professor & Head, Department of Fisheries Economics & Statistics, West Bengal University of Animal & Fishery Sciences, Kolkata
[The view expressed here are personal and don’t reflect those of the government]