Total quality management has assumed great importance in the seafood sector worldwide both in production and supply chains. Although India is the 2nd largest aquaculture producer in the world after China with world-class seafood plants, concerted efforts are lacking in maintaining quality throughout the supply chain. New trends are emerging in production and marketing such as certification, traceability, eco-labeling, etc. In this background, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) has felt the need to guarantee the quality of seafood produced for domestic and export market and therefore had to evolve a new mechanism for capacity building in shrimp health and quality management at the grassroots level by organizing small scale farmers into Aqua Societies, and networking them with a centralized agency for adopting Better Management Practices (BMP).

Coastal aquaculture in India is mainly carried out by small and marginal farmers, located in the remote villages of maritime States. More than 90% of the farmers belong to small scale or marginal category with holdings of less than 2.00 ha per individual. They are largely unorganized and scattered in various remote coastal villages of the country. The farmers mostly adopt traditional methods for operating their farms and do not have access to technological innovations and scientific applications. To improve access of farmers to sustainable and ecofriendly farming methods and its contribution to national economy, effective extension work is essential and prerequisite from the concerned agencies. Although several Central and State agencies are involved and extending technical assistance through their extension network, it has not been possible to reach a major chunk of these farmers due to their sheer numbers and remote locations.

The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), in association with the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific (NACA), Bangkok, Thailand, an Intergovernmental organization, has been implementing for the last four years to support shrimp farmers in India to adopt Better Management Practices (BMPs) for disease control, coastal management and sustainable farming. This programme, which was started in Mogalthur in Andhra Pradesh during 2002, has been very successful in forming a participatory movement of farmers across the country. The collaboration started with the formulation of “Better Management Practices” (BMPs) and was followed up with a village demonstration programme during the years of 2003 to 2006. The demonstration programme was successful in organizing small-scale farmers into self-help groups for adoption of “Better Management Practices”. The success of the village demonstration programme generated considerable enthusiasm among the aquaculture farming community and there are now more requests from many quarters for conducting such programmes in the different regions of India. As a result, aqua clubs/aquaculture societies have been established in the maritime states for community management with a participatory approach. In order to continue the work initiated by the MPEDA- NACA Project and to provide the much needed thrust to the extension work in coastal aquaculture development, MPEDA is establishing a separate Society viz, National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA) with the approval of Government of India.