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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Shrimp to the rescue: GADVASU initiative a boon for Muktsar, Fazilka

Over 600 acres of seepage-hit and waterlogged area has been brought under aquaculture

punjab Updated: Dec 04, 2017 12:16 IST
Sarbmeet Singh
Sarbmeet Singh
Hindustan Times, Muktsar
Shrimp ready for packaging in Fazilka, among districts that suffer from waterlogged fields where crops are hard to grow.
Shrimp ready for packaging in Fazilka, among districts that suffer from waterlogged fields where crops are hard to grow.(HT Photo)

Shrimp farming has emerged as a boon for farmers in waterlogged areas of Muktsar and Fazilka districts. Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, had introduced it on a trial basis in Shijrana village in Fazilka district six years ago.

Since then, it has picked on. Today, over 600 acres that is seepage-hit and prone to waterlogging has been brought under aquaculture in the two districts over the past three years.

This land is not usable for any other crop as it has a salinity of 5 parts per thousand, 10 times the salinity of river water.

Farmers say that they earn an income of Rs 10 lakh in the shrimp season that lasts for four months from July to October.

The state government provides 90% subsidy to excavate ponds where the shrimp are grown and 50% subsidy is given for purchasing equipment, seed and feed.

“A large area of southwestern part of Punjab, including Muktsar and Fazilka, are worst affected by waterlogging. Six years ago GADVASU accepted the challenge of developing aquaculture in the region and conducted trials. We got a good response,” Dr AS Nanda, GADVASU vice-chancellor told HT over phone.

Unemployed after doing his engineering, Gurpreet Singh of Ratta Khera village in Muktsar took to shrimp farming this year.

“I did the stocking on June 21 and harvested the shrimp in the last week of October. The produce sold for Rs 18 lakh,” he said. From a pond excavated on an acre, four tonne (4,000 kg) of shrimp can be produced. The farmer sells the produce for Rs 250-350 per kg.

Gurpinder Singh Brar, sarpanch of Bahadar Khera village in Fazilka, says, “Shrimp farming is boon for us. It has changed our lifestyle. The state fisheries department and the University are helping us. We don’t hesitate to call university experts even at night during the season.”

“Shrimp farming income is many times the earnings from normal crops,” said Dr Asha Dhawan, former dean, College of Fisheries, GADVASU.

Merra D Ansal, senior scientist and head, College of Fisheries, GADVASU, said, “To grow shrimp, best management practices are needed. The area should be free of pathogens and the seed should be disease-free and bought from government approved authorities only.”

Challenges remain

Even though a beginning has been made, challenges like storage, and pricing issues remain. Farmers also say a processing plant will help them manifold.

“Storage is a challenge. Once harvested, farmers have to sell the produce at prevailing prices. A processing project is needed,” Gurpinder added. There is a word of advise from a senior scientist.

“Farmers should adopt cluster farming which means stocking at once in the fields and harvesting. This will help in saving farmers from exploitation at the hands of traders as they (farmers) will be together,” said Prabhjeet Singh, senior scientist of GADVASU, who remains in direct contact with area’s farmers during the season.

First Published: Dec 03, 2017 20:04 IST