India’s first private vannamei broodstock producer will start deliveries to the domestic market within the next month, Ashok Nanjapa, director at BMR Blue Genetics, told IntraFish.

The BMR Broodstock Multiplication Centre, a joint venture between Mexican genetics company Blue Genetics and Indian vertically integrated shrimp farmer BMR, was officially commissioned in March. The facility has capacity to produce between 80,000 and 90,000 broodstock per year.

At the moment, it is the only fully private center of its kind, but there is another broodstock producing facility co-owned by the government.

According to Nanjapa, the benefits of having a local supply of broodstock will go beyond economic advantages.

“Currently, Indian hatcheries import broodstock from abroad, but with our supply, they can get the animals locally, reducing the stress that the shrimp suffers when being imported,” Nanjara said.

“This will save them a lot of trouble, they should be able to buy any quantities they want, not having to rely on import licenses, availability, or space for quarantine, there are many productivity advantages to this.”

BMR, which was the first company to carry out vannamei farming testing in the country to introduce the Latin American species and see the viability of the industry, got permission to set up the joint venture for the broodstock multiplication center in 2015.

“The government of India asked for interest from companies wanting to set up a multiplication center, on the conditions that the applicants had an understanding of the industry, and a partnership with a reputed breeding center in another country,” Nanjapa said.

The company then partnered with Mexican Blue Genetics under an equity agreement over the multiplication center.

BMR imports last-generation post-larvae from the Mexican operation, and grows it to sell it as broodstock to hatcheries in India.

Local opposition

The Prawn Farmers Federation of India (PFI) is requesting the country’s Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries to crack down on shrimp broodstock imports from Mexico, citing a potential risk of the introduction of Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS).

According to the PFI, EMS is present in Mexico although the country has not declared the presence of the virus, a disease that took a heavy toll on the shrimp farming sector in Thailand in particular.

“EMS is very much there in Mexico, but it has not been officially reported by the Mexican government quite obviously to safeguard its aquaculture industry” Balasubramaniam V, general secretary of the PFI, told IntraFish.

According to the Animal World Health Organization (OIE) register, EMS is not present in Mexico, and hasn’t been since it first began recording the disease in 2016.

A spokesperson for the OIE also told IntraFish there are no records of the disease in Mexico.

However, an official document issued by the OIE in 2018 states that there was an outbreak of EMS in the country in 2013.

This document has been slammed by the Mexican government, which submitted a request seen by IntraFish in which it asks the OIE to rectify the statement based on the fact that Mexico had not reported such outbreak, a compulsory step needed for the OIE to list a disease.

“The Mexican Health Authorities, the country’s official delegates to OIE, indicated that EMS has never been reported in their country and requested OIE to respect the official position of Mexican Health authorities,” BMR Blue Genetics Nanjapa told IntraFish.

At the moment, all broodstock coming from Mexico and other countries into India are put into a five-day quarantine period and tested for OIE known pathogens at the government’s Aquatic Quarantine center in Chennai.

In addition, post-larvae imports go through a quarantine period of 15 days, where they are kept under observation and tested against OIE listed pathogens, including EMS, before being allowed entry.

However, the PFI is strongly lobbying for the crackdown of these imports, claiming the risk is too high and could lead to massive losses of stock.

“Trans-border live animal shipment is and has been a major source of disease transmission through the history of shrimp aquaculture,” Balasubramaniam said.

"The concern is that by bringing genetics from a country where there is EMS, we are putting the entire industry inadvertently at risk," he said.