Kerala is experiencing a fruitful comeback of the high-health black tiger shrimps, thanks to a much-needed initiative the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) launched earlier this year.

Encouraging feedback to the MPEDA’s efforts to revive the production of black tiger shrimps by mass sale of its seeds since the past 100 days shows a rapidly growing interest among the farmers to raise the disease-free variety, according to authorities with the statutory body that functions under the Union Government’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

The Kochi-headquartered MPEDA had on February 18 begun supplying black tiger shrimp seeds from its new multispecies aquaculture complex (MAC) at Vallarpadam. The inaugural sale was done by MPEDA Chairman K.S. Srinivas by handing over one lakh seeds to former Kerala Director-General of Police Hormis Tharakan, a progressive shrimp farmer.

Srinivas noted that the black tiger prawn supplied from the nine-acre MAC has been showing “excellent” performance in various parts of the state. “We knew that increased production of the black tiger variety can boost India’s shrimp exports in the long run. We are seeing the early signs of it happening,” he added. “Recently, I visited some of the aquaculture farms to understand the field performance of the seeds from our facility. Our seeds are doing very well. The farmers’ comments are encouraging.”

Tharakan said the seeds showed very good performance during the three months of culture period. “They gained an average weight of 38 grams, thanks to the quality. I got 260 kg of shrimp in the 90 days from an area of 50 cent by stocking 10,000 seeds. Currently, we are rearing another 90,000 seeds,” he revealed. “This is in happy contrast to my facing a continuous crop loss for the last three years.”

The Rs 7.26-crore MAC, which was inaugurated on December 8 last year, features a hatchery with an annual production capacity of 20 million black tiger shrimp seeds, besides nurseries for four varieties of fin fishes.

C V Mathew, another farmer who has been into shrimp cultivation for 16 years in his native Kumbalangi suburb, said black tiger seeds from MAC attained 25-gram size in the first 50 days. “In 86 days, the animals reached an average size of 40 grams,” he pointed out. “I have never experienced such a growth rate of my crop.”

No different has been the feedback from the farmers from downstate Kollam and Kannur in north Malabar after culturing the seeds taken from the Vallarpadam hatchery, top MPEDA officials said.

It was from 2010 that the black tiger shrimp, an endemic species to south-east Asia, began to face a slump in its traditional reputation as a major variety of cultivated shrimp item in India. That was after aquaculture farmers in the country began to focus on growing the exotic vannamei species of shrimps in a big way.

By Manoj

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