Pisciculturist to set up north India’s first shrimp processing facility
Pisciculturist Palwinder Pal Singh Dhillon, who has been cultivating saline water fish at Jandwala village, said the upcoming 30-tonne shrimp processing facility under Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana would enable Punjab fish farmers to process and store shrimp
: Punjab’s efforts to promote shrimp farming in zero-earning saline areas got a boost as a Muktsar-based pisciculturist is planning to set up north India’s first shrimp processing-cum-storage unit.
Palwinder Pal Singh Dhillon, who has been cultivating saline water fish at Jandwala village, said the upcoming 30-tonne facility under Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana would enable Punjab fish farmers to process and store shrimp.
“Shrimp is an export-oriented crop that is shipped from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Traders buy the produce from the farm gate but on occasions. A delay in transportation means financial losses to farmers. The ₹ 1.60 crore project will produce ice and give farmers to earn from the leftover produce by storing it. It will also provide employment as sorting and storing headless shrimp is done manually,” said Dhillon, who has been in saline fish farming since 2017.
Muktsar deputy commissioner Vineet Kumar said the facility, a subsidised initiative to establish a comprehensive framework and reduce infrastructural gaps in the fisheries sector, will bring a new lease of life to pisciculturists.
This year, the state fisheries authorities expect the production of over 4,000 tonnes than 1,500 tonnes in 2021.
Shrimp farming was introduced in 2016 to tap large tracts of lands in the south Malwa belt marred by chronic waterlogged and seepage-hit land.
Due to high salinity levels in soil, several areas of Fazilka, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa were unfit for conventional farming.
After successful experimenting with shrimp farming in saline areas, enterprising adopted aquaculture in 2017 with 37 acres.
Official data says, in 2021 about 800 acres were used for shrimp and this year more than 1,300 acres in expected to be covered for aquaculture.
Assistant fishery director posted at Muktsar Kewal Krishan said as stocking is in the final stage, the district has recorded about 600 acres under shrimp, the highest in the state, against 278 acres in 2021.
“Within six years, farmers have reposed faith in the blue revolution. Shrimp farming involves capital investment but a farmer can earn a handsome amount,” he added.
A shrimp farmer from Fazilka said there is a huge potential in the 120-day-long shrimp farming as the US and China have major import markets.
“Per acre cost input of shrimp stands at ₹ 6 lakh and a farmer can get a yield of 3-5 tonnes from it. A farmer can earn ₹ 4 per lakh per acre and this aquaculture requires strict biosafety monitoring. Farmers must ensure that the entire pond area is protected against birds or stray animals and that only sanitised people enter their farm. Firms from coastal states of south India buy the crop at the farm-gate in Punjab and salinity-hit areas can be converted into the remunerative zone,” he said.