TAMIL NADU

Good prospects for prawn culture

TIRUCHI, APRIL 24 . The fast growth rate and acceptability of supplementary feed have made prawn culture an ideal farming activity in the district and a profitable proposition in an attractive export market.

The preference of the European markets for fresh-water prawn has enhanced the prospects of prawn culture.

In its Potential Linked Credit Plan for 2004-2005, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has said, "Fresh-water prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is suitable for inland aqua culture." Fish farmers are entitled to a bank loan of Rs. 3.12 Lakhs, provided they contribute 15 per cent of the margin money (Rs. 53,000). Loans can be repaid over four years, with a grace of one year. Seeds and pelletted feed are sourced from the hatcheries in Chennai and Nellore. The buoyant export market and favourable physical endowments available for fresh water prawn culture is all set to put this an eco-friendly activity on a fast growth path.

The total inland fish production during 2002-2003 in the district was 4,284 tonne. About 618 persons are engaged in this activity, and there is scope for setting up an ornamental fish-breeding unit, the NABARD has said. The Office of the Assistant Director of Fisheries in Tiruchi also caters to the needs of Karur, Perambalur and Pudukottai districts.

Block-level inland fishermen cooperative societies function in Tiruchi, Lalgudi, Manapparai and Musiri with a total membership of 626. A seed-rearing centre is functioning at Asoor in Tiruverumbur block. Fifteen progressive farmers have already taken to commercial fish culture.

The Veterinary University Training and Research Centre here is offering training in ornamental fish culture. There is a good scope for promoting sewage-fed fish culture in the bigger townships such as the BHEL Township.

According to the NABARD, a capital subsidy ranging from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakhs is provided for setting up small- and medium-scale hatcheries having an annual seed production of 10 million and 30 million pot larvae respectively.

The anticipated credit flow during 2004-2005 has been put at at Rs. 12 lakhs. The Fisheries department, along with the Agricultural Engineering department, has identified hundreds of ponds, and have been training farmers in fish breeding.

The NABARD has suggested that the one-year lease of common water areas must be increased to enable farmers to make long-term investments and get more productivity.

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