Fed up with their loss-making shrimp farming,over 500 farmers in south Gujarat are now seeing a new business potential in commercial farming of milkfish an important seafood in south-east Asia and a few Pacific Islands.
Researchers from Navsari Agriculture University (NAU) who have been working on saline water fish farming along with colleagues from Central Institute of Brackish Water Aquaculture (CIBA),Chennai,are now spreading awareness among the farmers about the milkfish farming.
Experts point out that risks of a crop failure in milkfish farming is relatively low,and input costs are also lower by about three times.
An assistant researcher from NAU,H G Solanki,says,The shrimp farming culture is well-developed in Surat and Navsari. However,in this business,the risk factor is more and investments are high. The white spot disease is very common and farmers face huge financial problems when the shrimp crop fails. But in the milkfish farming,there is less chances of crop failure and even seeds are easily available. In three to four months,the farmer gets a yield of milkfish that weigh about 300 grams. This can be sold in the domestic market easily as there are many who consume this seafood in Gujarat.
The weather condition and saline water of Gujarat is appropriate for fish farming. The same shrimp farming pond can be used for the this purpose. Currently,the seeds are available from hatchery at CIBA in Chennai but later if the demand becomes higher than an outlet can easily be opened here in Surat or Navsari, Solanki added.
Official sources point out that on 10 hectares of land the investment required is Rs 12 lakh for shrimp farming,while the production cost per kg of shrimp farming varies between Rs 200 to Rs 220. However,in fish farming the production cost is just Rs 60-75 a kilogram.
Surat Aquaculture Association president Vasant Safri said,We have heard about the milkfish farming,being a cheaper alternative. We are trying to know more about its advantages.