Men who matter
T. Raghunath Reddy
He is one among those few businessmen who have the unique sense of feeling the tremor much before the actual happening. T. Raghunath Reddy, managing director of Suvarna Rekha Exports Private Limited, could feel that deepsea fishing business would occupy a prominent position in the world's seafood export market when the business itself was in the nascent stage.
Born and brought up in Hyderabad, he completed his post-graduation in fisheries in Andhra University and proceeded to the US for M.S. in food processing. "At that time, the Government of India had announced a policy that chartered trawlers could operate from anywhere in the globe and yet process and export the catch from India. This policy inspired me to set up something of my own," he recalls.
Immediately after returning from US he set up Shrimp India, a seafood firm. "From the very beginning I was interested in deepsea fishing and believed in starting with a bang. I launched the business by chartering eight deepsea trawlers and that was considered the biggest trawler fleet in those days. Subsequently, I procured my own," says he.
"When I decided to start my own firm, I did a survey and found that the waters of Visakhapatnam was less over-fished as compared to other places. It was only later when aqua culture was in its boom that I moved to the western coast and changed my area of focus from shrimp to different species," says Raghunath Reddy.
Today he not only operates around India but also spreads his net in the waters of Indonesia and Burma.
According to him, seafood industry is not only capital-intensive but also technology-driven. "Seafood export is a global industry. One has to compete with the developed countries. We have to be technically sound to compete with them and that is why we have constructed a state-of-the-art processing plant in Visakhapatnam. Apart form the processing plant, all the trawlers that we own are equipped to do the required processing on board. In fact, on- board processing is our specialty, and that's how we have been able to stay put in this highly competitive ambience."
When headless shrimp hit the rough weather a couple of years ago, he took to the export of 'head on' shrimp. "The market for 'head on' shrimp is very limited but it is a specialised market. Even the processing and packaging of 'head on' shrimp needs a different technology and expertise, which we have adopted aboard trawlers."
The firm that he started with 10 persons today employs over 700. In the coming years he plans to get into more value-added products like braded and batted products and cooked shrimp.
On the future of seafood industry, he says, "It is bright unless the OPEC prices become a big hurdle."
Apart from being the numero uno in deepsea fishing and ranked among the top ten seafood exporters in India, Raghunath Reddy has been receiving the best deepsea fish exporter award that is instituted by the Union Commerce Ministry for the last five years. He was president of the All-India Association of Indian Fishing Industry, secretary-general of the Seafood Exporters Association of India and is currently a member in the board of Marine Produts Export Development Authority.
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