KOCHI: The waste of shrimp and prawn is the raw material for a booming industry with wide ranging applications in biomedicine, controlling industrial pollution and uses in the field of nanotechnology.
However, the country, which produces 1.5 lakh tonnes of waste from the outer skeleton of crustacean catches such as shrimps, crabs, lobster, krill and internal structures of squid, does nothing much to make the chitin from the waste into chitosan, one of the most useful products invented as part of the by-product of the fishing industry.
There are only a few companies involved in the production of chitosan while the rest of it is exported as chitin. The lead producers of chitin and chitosan are Japan and Poland with about 2,000 tonnes.
With large quantities of shell waste produced by the fish processing industry, the country has a huge potential to nurture the growth of chitosan production, which is mainly hampered by the cost of its production. The chemical process of deacetylation of chitin is a costly affair at Rs. 200 a kg.
There is little awareness about the material and its implications. A seminar in this regard will be held here on Monday. Organised by the Kerala State Cooperative Federation for Fisheries Development Ltd (Matsyafed) and the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), the national seminar on Biomedical Applications of Chitosan will be inaugurated by Sebastian Paul, MP, at the CIFT Conference Hall.
Speaking about the applications of chitosan in the pharmaceutical industry at a press meet here on Friday, V. V. Saseendran, chairman of Matsyafed, and Dr. K. Devadasan, Director, CIFT, explained its various uses.
It is used as a treatment for obesity, as artificial skin in the case of burns and wounds. It is used in making contact lens and its use as surgical suture has wide ramifications. Its blood clotting, antifungal and antibacterial properties make it a useful compound in several applications and also as functional additives for foods and feeds.