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ICAR-CIBA scientists have genetically decoded the Indian white P. indicus variety of shrimp to enable farming the shrimp for the export market.

ICAR-CIBA scientists have genetically decoded the Indian white P. indicus variety of shrimp to enable farming the shrimp for the export market.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Aquaculture scientists have decoded the genome of an indigenous variety of white shrimp P. indicus that will not only make India self-reliant but also improve the country’s export income.

India’s seafood exports are estimated at ₹42,000 crore and the farming sector relies on an exotic, genetically improved imported Pacific white shrimp called Vannamei. Globally, this variety is the dominant species used for export.

Farmed shrimp contribute to as much as 70% of the country’s sea food export market. The mother shrimp, P. Vannamei is imported and cultivated on farms and then, exported. Under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, ₹25.04 crore has been allocated in the first phase to identify an Indian shrimp variety that can be genetically improved. A total of ₹100 crore has been allocated for the project.

“It is to break this single species dependence and to promote our indigenous species vis-à-vis exotic species for the benefit of Indian shrimp industry and shrimp farmers, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Institute for Brackishwater Aquaculture(ICAR-CIBA) has taken Indian white shrimp, P. indicus as a national priority species under the Make in India flagship programme” said Kuldeep Kumar Lal, the Director, CIBA, Chennai.

CIBA decoded the complete genome of the shrimp species, a first of its kind achievement and a fundamental step in genetic selection of native shrimp, said IBA’s principal scientist Akshaya Panigrahi.

Doubling productivity

“It has been demonstrated nationwide that P. indicus is a potential species with a production of 3-7 tons / hectare / crop at moderate stocking density, even prior to domestication. This genetic improvement programme can lead to a genetic gain of 4-7% per generation, thus ensuring a doubling in productivity and improved feed conversion efficiency and increased profitability for the farmer,” he explained.

The new species would make India a pioneer in raising a parent stock of selectively bred Indian white shrimp and supplying to the world, added Dr. Panigrahi, the principal investigator of the project.

The scientists say the potential of the genetically improved shrimp strain would improve incrementally with the adoption of modern smart farming systems. “We have created a nuclear breeding centre and all the scientific back up required for genetic selection has been completed. We have mapped the genetic parameters of shrimps from across the world,” he added.

The need for self-reliance was enhanced when during the COVID-19 pandemic when the fish farmers could not access mother shrimp to farm, which affected their livelihood.

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