Now around 400 acres of land is under shrimp farming and giving the farmers good returns.
Chandigarh: Enterprising farmers of Malwa region have turned a bane into a boon. The farmers of some districts in southern Punjab were losing fertile land due to increased salinity in the soil. However, some imaginative farmers have ventured into shrimp farming unheard of in Punjab till some time ago. Now around 400 acres of land is under shrimp farming and giving the farmers good returns.
Farmers in Muktsar, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Mansa, Bathinda districts of Malwa region of the state are rapidly switching to shrimp farming, or the cultivation of prawns, which are high in demand and fetch good money. From one-acre land three years ago, the shrimp farming is done on around 400-acre land that is seepage-hit and prone to waterlogging.
The aquaculture has turned a boon for the farmers as this land was not usable for any other crop since it has a salinity of 5 parts per thousand, 10 times the salinity of river water.
Farmers earn an income of Rs 10 lakh in the shrimp season that lasts for six months from May to October. About 4,000 kgs of shrimps can be produced from a pond excavated on an acre of land, which can fetch a price of Rs 250-350 per kg. After excluding costs, the net profit can range from 4-5 lakh per acre, which is more than any other crop that is sowed in conventional cropping system.
According to Dr Prabjeet Singh of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University GADVASU, who is involved in shrimp farming from its nascent stage in Punjab, “A pilot project on shrimp was started as early as 2013 in Punjab by our university. However, it was in 2016 that we started this on commercial basis from Ratta Khera village in Muktsar Sabhib district. Just in a few years, the shrimp farming has become popular in areas with high salinity. This year around 400-acre area is under shrimp farming.
However, Dr Prabjeet Singh feels that “the biggest challenge for us is to make shrimp farming sustainable in Punjab. For this, it is very important that farmers are made aware of bio-security. The farmers are advised to buy seeds only from the coastal-approved hatcheries and also get their seeds tested”. To make shrimp farming a sustainable venture, it’s very important that shrimp farming is saved from the aquatic diseases, he says.
A progressive farmer Rajkumar, who has shrimp farm in Mansa district, says that shrimp farming has changed fortunes of many farmers like him. “I started on three-acre farm in 2016-17. This year I am having seven acres of land under shrimp farming and by next year, I am preparing to bring 15 acres of land under shrimp farming. On an average, I am able to make a profit of Rs 4 lakh from an acre in a season, which starts from April and lasts in October. Andhra Pradesh and Mumbai take away our major produce for export. However, I also send 200-kg produce to Ludhiana city and 150 kg to Chandigarh every day during season”.