White shrimp farming set to begin

White shrimp farming set to begin

Kochi: Shrimp farmers are gearing to farm the exotic but less expensive white shrimp in a few months, after the government recently cleared the way for its introduction in India.

The white shrimps, known as vannamei, are a South American variety known for their high yield and quick harvest. With the guidelines issued just a week ago, vannamei cultivation is expected to begin in a few months after regulatory procedures are sorted out, said P. Brahamanadam, managing director of Andhra Pradesh-based Devi Seafoods Ltd.

The industry has long been demanding introduction of vannamei, especially after a pilot in 2003 by two Andhra Pradesh firms showed encouraging results. This demand also gained thrust because of the rising cost of cultivating shrimps and the stagnating production of the black tiger, the most common variety in India, at about 150,000 tonne a year for the past decade, according to industry estimates.

Vannamei farming costs Rs70-80 a kg, roughly half of growing black tigers, said K.S. Chowdhry, director of Apex Exports Ltd in Andhra Pradesh.

Also, the per-hectare yield for vannamei is at least three times that of the black tiger, which has an average yield of 8 tonnes per hectare. White shrimps can be harvested faster at 60-90 days, compared with 90-120 days for the black tiger. Vannamei, however, is expected to sell for Rs50-60 a kg less than the Rs200 per kg for black tiger shrimps, Chowdhry said.

The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture in Chennai is likely to be authorized to import the broodstock and keep it in quarantine before it is distributed to hatcheries and farmers, said Vishnu Bhat, director of Marine Products Export Development Authority, a government trade body, of which the centre is a part.