Switzerland-based cooperative organic food giant COOP has entered into a tripartite understanding with the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) and the Indian Sea Food Exporters Association for large scale farming of black tiger prawns in Kerala waters.
Vannamei dominates the aquaculture production in India, with black tiger shrimp being limited to a minimum share in small pockets. Earlier, black tiger shrimp was mostly captured from sea and not farmed. Vannamei, which is easy and economical to farm, became the dominant species in the last 10 years.
India is the second-largest fish producer in the world after China and accounts for nearly 6% of global fish production.
Considering the soaring demand for Indian prawns in the European market, we have finalised the road map for large scale organic production of black tiger prawns to export to the European market. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding this will be signed when the approval of the state government is received for the proposal, said KUFOS vice-chancellor A Ramachandran.
The Indian Sea Food Export Association, the third partner of the joint venture, will identify fish farmers to grow black tiger prawns in Kerala waters for export, while KUFOS will extend technical know-how to selected farmers for scientific organic prawn farming and the COOP will financially support them by buying their product at a premium price.
After harvesting, member companies of the Indian Sea Food Export Association will procure prawns and process it for export to COOP stores across Europe this is the gist of the tripartite understanding to be submitted to the state govt for approval, Ramachandran said.
The COOP group operates in the retail, wholesale and production sectors of food products across Europe.
In total, the COOP has 2213 retail outlets in Switzerland alone and 124 cash and carry markets in other European countries. The cooperative giant has a workforce of around 80,000 with approximately 54,000 employees in Switzerland alone.
A three-member COOP delegation with CEO Philip Wyss, food division manager Thomas Sommer and India country manager Deepa Newar visited the KUFOS headquarters on Monday to discuss and finalise the large scale prawn farming proposal.