Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh: Shrimp farmers in troubled waters as prices sink

Aquaculturists in Prakasam district are battling a financial crisis in the wake of ‘unfavourable’ market conditions and government policies.

Aquaculturists in Prakasam district are battling a financial crisis in the wake of ‘unfavourable’ market conditions and government policies. | Photo Credit: KOMMURI SRINIVAS

Shrimp farmers in Prakasam district are mulling to go on a culture holiday after a slash in electricity subsidy and skyrocketing input costs, coupled with an unexpected plunge in prices of their produce, have left their finances in a precarious state.

The farmers, who reel in much-needed foreign exchange for the country by cultivating and exporting the whiteleg shrimp in a big way, are unhappy over what they allege are ‘unfavourable policies’ being framed by the Centre and State governments.

‘’We are not in a position to culture shrimp any longer in the wake of a huge increase in the cost of feed, probiotics and antibiotics used in the cultivation process,” says a group of shrimp farmers ahead of a meeting at Koppolu near here on Wednesday to take stock of the situation arising out of government regulations and prevailing market conditions.

The shrimp farmers say that while input costs have risen by 30%. feed manufacturers are not providing them any relief even as the cost of soy protein had come down recently, complains Prakasam District Shrimp Farmers Association convener D. Gopinath.

Recalling that while the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government had brought down the power tariff to ₹1.50 per unit for aquaculture units in line with his election promise, the State government had subsequently revised the power tariff upwards to ₹3.85 per unit for establishments spread over an area of five acres.

‘‘This has come as a bolt from the blue for shrimp farmers who on an average raise Litopenaeus vannamei shrimp in more than 10 acres, as only then would aquaculture be viable,” says M. Venkateswarlu, an aquaculturist from Koppolu.

Power tariff concession is now available only to those shrimp farmers within the aqua zones declared by the Andhra Pradesh State Aquaculture Development Authority (APSADA). Over 10% of the units fall outside the aqua zone.

In the present situation, each shrimp farmer is forced to incur an additional cost of ₹20 per kg of the produce on the electricity front. Shrimp farmers need electricity for running aerators to provide adequate oxygen for the healthy growth of the invertebrates in the ponds, besides for pumping water in and out of the ponds.

Encouraged by the good market rates prevailing in February, shrimp farmers had raised vannamei with great hopes. However, the market rates for counts of 30, 40 and 50 per kg had now unexpectedly dipped by more than ₹100 per kg. As a result, most of the farmers are no longer taking the trouble of cultivating large shrimps. ‘‘I sell my produce for a count of 100 per kg,” says S. Anji Babu, a shrimp farmer from Koppolu who has raised whiteleg shrimp in a 20-acre pond.

It is unfortunate that exporters who are making a killing in the wake of the weakening of the rupee against the dollar had not passed on even a part of the benefit to the shrimp farmers. Farmers are still facing problems with spurious seeds and medicines even after the constitution of the Andhra Pradesh State Aquaculture Development Authority (APSADA), they rue.

The shrimp farmers are urging the Union and State governments to intervene and put in place a shrimp farmer-friendly environment in order to help the sector get back on track.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2022 11:43:56 am |