The theme pavilion at the three-day Aqua-Aquaria India – 2013 expo showcased the Research and Development activities of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture.

The Giant Fresh Water Prawn, more popularly known as Scampi, was very popular with the aqua-farmers ten years ago. It was easy to breed in captivity. The male prawns are big when compared to the female. But now Scampi culture is on the decline. The exporters are also not interested in the product.

At the time of harvest 60 per cent of the Scampi population is female and only 40 per cent male. The larger males are sold commercially, but the smaller females are kept for feed preparation. But, the amount of feed consumed by the male and female scampi is almost the same.

The farmers reared their own seed in breeding ponds. This also caused deterioration in quality because pond rearing leads to inbreeding. Scampi production has today come down to just 5,000 tonnes per annum. It is at this point that the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA) came to the rescue of the farmers. It has set up a project in Konathanapdu (Near Kankipadu) in Krishna district and standardised technologies for the production of all male Scampi seed.

RGCA Project Director Y.C. Thampi Sam Raj talking to The Hindu said that the centre, in association with the Ben Gurion University of Israel, has come up with a method. By performing a surgical procedure on a male Scampi larva a ‘neo-female’ is created. All eggs laid by a neo-female hatch into males because they only have ‘Y’ chromosomes. By selective breeding the best Scampi seed could be provided to the farmers, Mr. Raj said.

The Tilapia project had been initiated by RGCA at Manikonda village, Krishna district. This project had standardised technologies for mass production of all male Tilapia seed of both the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain and the Redline Genetically Male Tilapia (GMT) strain developed by Fishgen, UK. The all-male seed was developed by treating the seed with hormones.