Empowering the Cultivation of Prawns Naturally and Locally
India is the third-largest producer of marine products like fish and prawns. 7.96% of the world’s total fish production comes from it. Steadily turning into a significant part of the nation, the sector employs more than 28 million people. For the past ten years, India’s marine production has been rapidly increasing, and it is expected to have 100–150% growth within the next 5 years.
Ryma Foodtech Private Limited, an Odisha-based firm, is empowering the natural shrimp industry in India with its innovative approach. Established in 2022, the company has a strong founding team led by a management expert, Amit Ailawadi, an IT expert, Jyoti Ailawadi, and an Aquaculture expert, Dinakrushna Nayak.
Backed by a blend of modern technological advancements, principles, and practical experience in the cultivation of prawns and aquaculture locally in their own 25 ponds spread across 20 acres of land, Ryma envisions bringing a ray of hope for the local farmers where they can learn, earn, and grow. The company is working on this project at various levels. Ryma strives to break the existing nexus in the aquamarine sector of India.
Make no mistake: For a small-time farmer, cultivating shrimp is a mammoth task. Like any other crop, they require certain elements like ponds, seeds, feed, medicine, oil, and equipment. The first step of production is to plant the seeds, the tiny offspring of the crops, in specific, parameter-maintained water ponds.
After the seeds are planted, it is vital to provide them with feed, frequent medication, and constant monitoring to ensure that there are no viruses, germs, or other issues that could affect the crop. Next, a water-churning device called an “aerator” is used. Churning water is needed as it provides the fish with sufficient oxygen to breathe and makes the pond habitat similar to that of the ocean.
These machines run either on oil or electricity. Primarily, wherever these crops are being produced, like in Odisha or Kerela, they do not have topnotch infrastructure. People in rural areas mostly use generators because either there is no electricity or it can’t be relied upon.
Furthermore, in this business, there is a nexus for everything!
For instance, usually farmers lack the funds needed to purchase seeds and turn to product distributors. The distributors provide them with seeds on the condition that they get additional money over the actual price of the seeds (as interest) post-production. Farmers have to make similar arrangements for other necessities like feed, medicine, and oil.
The exploitation of farmers doesn’t end here. After successfully growing the crop, they need to sell their harvest. Then comes the friendly neighbour exporter in the picture. (Well, not so friendly, actually.)
These exporters provide the necessary additional funding for the farmers’ crops on the further condition that the crop, once fully grown, would be sold to only them at the ongoing prevailing rate. This rate is decided by none other than the exporters themselves.
To get a better understanding of how farmers are exploited in this process, Ryma’s Managing Director, Amit Ailawadi, explains further through an example:
Prawn’s Crop is usually grown 2–3 times a year. The first season or culture is from January to April. Due to the low life cycle of the crop, farmers can’t hold it after the fourth month of production.
Ideally, if the crop’s total cost per kg, including production and interest, comes to Rs. 250, the market price of the raw crop should be Rs. 350. This ensures a Rs. 100 margin, or a handsome profit margin of 40%, for farmers per season.
However, since the exporters know the restriction of farmers to hold the crop beyond the given timeframe, they would smartly reduce the prevailing price drastically to say Rs. 240 (a price even less than the cost incurred by the farmers).
A farmer at this time would have no choice other than to sell the crop at a loss and fall back into debt by having to pay a balance of Rs. 10 along with interest to be adjusted during the next season. During the next crop season, the price would normalise back from Rs. 240 to Rs. 350. Clearing the farmer’s financial backlog, making them content, and ensuring they would look forward to planting the third crop as well, not realising that the exporters are managing the show and keeping them under their clutches.
It should be noted that the actual retail price at which the crop is sold overseas after processing comes to approx. Rs. 5500–6000 per kg (15 to 20 times higher than the farmer’s selling price) and has little or no impact on the procurement price for exporters.
The idea of Ryma Foodtech was conceptualised to break this nexus, and they are doing this by uniting small farmers along with them. Mr. Ailawadi says, keeping global demand and the current growth rate in consideration, this is undoubtedly one of the most promising and profitable ventures for the near future, and in the process, their organisation intends to work for the welfare of the common farmers of the country as well.
So far, in a short span of 8 months since its inception, 200+ small farmers owning over 275 farms have associated themselves with Ryma for efficient management, bulk pricing advantages, and assurance of a fair market price for their respective crops.
“The team contacts the manufacturers directly to negotiate the best prices for input products like feed, seed, and medication. This lowers the operating costs and thus leaves greater room for margins. This is more like a communal advantage for farmers. So this is the whole idea,” adds the visionary leader.
Project Plan: At a Glance
• Phase 1: Initial Self-Farm Creation and Farmer Pool (Already Complete)
• Phase 2: Focus on Sizeable Production (Currently in progress)
• Phase 3: Exporting the Product
• Phase 4: Sharing and Replicating the Business Model with State Governments and Administrative Bodies
• Phase 5: Crowdfunding and Global Expansion
As a part of Phase 4, Mr. Ailawadi and his team are already in discussions with numerous DMs in the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Kerela, and Bihar. Many of them have agreed to provide land, support, and subsidies. For Project Phase 5, Ryma intends to utilise the 200 acres of additional land that they own through crowdfunding. Ryma would offer foreign investors ownership of a geotagged pond with assured fixed annual returns. The Investors would just need to pay for the management and setup, and Ryma’s team would do the rest.
Meet the Leaders
Amit Ailawadi, the Founder of “Ryma Foodtech”, is driving the achievements of the firm forward and essentially rewriting its success story. With 22 years of rich experience in Management and IT, he has a proven track record of spearheading projects for prestigious firms like Microsoft, Cisco, and Hewlett Packard as Global IT head for a multinational company.
He is also the founder of an IT firm, Ryma Technologies, and a construction company, Rapid Bricks Inc. In 2020, with the thought of doing something for the welfare of society, he started research in the interiors and untouched parts of India. He realised that there are many small, underdeveloped villages with limited resources. To empower them, he came up with the idea of Ryma Foodtech and piloted it in 2022.
Along with him, his team is led by Jyoti Ailawadi and Dinakrushna Nayak. Jyoti is a graduate of Delhi University. With 22 years of experience, she is the Marketing and Operations head for Ryma Technologies (USA and Canada), and she has been actively leading the team to new heights. Dinakrushna, with 15 years of experience in aquaculture, is the local face of management for the project in the state of Odisha.
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