Aqua-culturists in Prakasam district minted money when Vannamei shrimp price jumped to over Rs. 750 per kg for 30-count in the wake of Chinese aquaculture industry taking a hit by Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) Shrimp disease in 2013.
With the shrimp price coming down to Rs. 510 per kg last year and falling further to a low Rs. 370 per kg this year, they are clueless on sustaining themselves in the uncertain times.
“In the present situation the shrimp price is unlikely to go up in the global market in view of good production in East and Southeast Asian countries'', Andhra Pradesh State Prawn Farmers’ Welfare Association secretary A. Kondal Rayudu told The Hindu .
“The only solace for aqua-culturists is reduction in power tariff by Rs. 3 to Rs. 4.80 by the State government which has recognised the sector as a growth engine”.
The government should come out with policy initiatives to make available all inputs at reduced cost, promote value-addition by creating facilities for processing raw shrimp and develop a domestic market for the protein-rich shrimp to insulate producers from the vagaries of international market characterised by fluctuating fortunes, he added.
“The crux of the problem is the shortage in availability of Specific Pathogen Free brood-stock. As a result, the survival rate has come down to 50 per cent now as against 80 per cent last year”, lamented an aqua-culturist P. Venkatesan from Singarayakonda.
The prolonged dry spell this year was also contributing to high mortality rate in the aqua-ponds, he said, adding that SPF brood-stock, which was available at just 30 paise per seed is now available at 45 paise. Adding to our woes the feed cost had gone up from Rs. 55 to Rs. 75 per kg this year.
The State government should create more cold storage units and cold-chains to move the perishable commodity for consumption across the country, added another aqua-culturist M. Edukondaluin Kothapatnam.
The district produced about 33,200 tonnes of shrimp in 4200 hectares last year, sources in the Fisheries Department said, adding the production had fallen to just 4,000 tonnes in the first seven months of this year.
(Reporting by S. Murali)