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Better Management Boosts Indian Shrimp Farmers

by Ellen Hardy
4 September 2008, at 1:00am

INDIA - The Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific has organized more than 100 farmers societies in Andhra Pradesh to start following its better management practises in order to revive the shrimp industry.

The first three societies in Krishna were organized in Penduru village, which is located in Bantumilli mandal of Krishna District. There are 164 farmers involved in shrimp farming owning 384 ponds in 600 acres farming area. Out of this, 63 farmers formed into three societies in the village earlier in the year.

63 farmers (84 ponds, 67 ha area) agreed to follow the better management practices (BMPs) starting with getting disease free seed through contract hatchery system where farmers collectively placed bulk orders to a hatchery, 45 days in advance of the planned stocking date, for production of required quantity and quality of seeds. Through a consultative process, facilitated by the NaCSA team, a mutual agreement has been formed between the selected hatchery and three societies. The agreement included included screening broodstock for disease, using only disease free broodstock for seed production, single spawner systems, no use of banned antibiotics, good feeding practices and other terms and conditions for production and procurement of quality seed.

There has been a lot of positive results to come from this change. None of the three Penduru societies ponds were affected by disease. More than 50% of non-society ponds affected with white spot disease in this area in this summer season.

The project has also seen increased confidence in the contract hatchery system. Prior to the demonstration, farmers from this area never went to hatcheries to purchase seed, they were all dependent on poor quality seed from commercial nurseries. With 100% success now they are confident about getting good quality seed through the contract hatchery system.

Also, through efficient use of feed (FCR of 1:1) and other resources, including reduced use of chemicals, all the farmers will achieve a very good profit for the first time in many years.

There was no use of antibiotics either. Seed, shrimp and other inputs have been screened for antibiotic residues and they were negative.

Seeing the success of the Penduru farmers more and more neighboring farmers and farmers from abandoned areas are coming forward to organize themselves as societies. We could see the positive impact of this success in coming crops as new societies implement BMPs and more societies will be organized in Krishna District. This could pave the way for full scale revival of most of the abandoned ponds in Krishna and other places.

The Krishna district covers about one third of the total brackish water area developed into shrimp ponds in Andhra Pradesh, India. Although until the mid 1990s shrimp farmers earned good returns and investment in technologies for good management practices were generally ignored. As a result, shrimp farming in Krishna district failed to withstand the impact of viral disease outbreaks in the mid 1990s. As the situation failed to improve, a large number of farmers abandoned shrimp farming. Presently, farmers from socially and economically challenged communities dominate the shrimp farming population in the district who lack skills, information and organization.

After 110 days of successful culture farmers started harvesting, none of the ponds were affected by disease. To share the successful experiences of Penduru society farmers NaCSA organized farmer field day on Wednesday, 11 June, 2008 in Pendurru village to spread the awareness about "participatory approaches" among farmers across Krishna District. More than 200 farmers from different parts of Krishna participated in the programme along with the presidents of 30 societies. It was a learning experience for all the Andhra Pradesh society coordinators participating in the function. The function began with a brief introduction by the CEO of NaCSA followed by Sri. Vijay Aqua Farmers Welfare Society President Sri. Srinvasa Rao, who shared his society's success with the invited farmers. Sri. Chinna, a farmer from Sri. Sivsai Welfare Society explained in detail the better practices followed in the society starting with the contract hatchery system. Sri. Saifuddin Anis, Deputy Director of MPEDA urged all the farmers to follow the example of Penduru farmers and achieve success in each and every society. Prof. Sharma from Nagarjuna University stressed the importance of participatory approaches and the technical information available from NaCSA through society coordinators to society farmers. Later Chandra Mohan of NaCSA made a presentation in Telugu about better management practices and presented the current market situation. All the participant farmers keenly listened to the Penduru farmers experience and later discussed the requirements of their own societies. One common demand from all the societies is to get assistance in supplying electricity to their farms.

Ellen Hardy