Shrimp and prawn farming in Punjab and Haryana may get an impetus with the new technology developed by the Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai.
Prawn farming is restricted to coastal areas but the new technology allows use of the saline wastelands in Punjab and Haryana, where productivity is poor, for the farming.
Started in 2008 by CIFE at its Rohtak centre (Haryana), the experimental trials on tiger shrimps or prawns were continued until 2012 to study the feasibility and financial viability of the technology. Buoyed by the response, the technology was passed on to farmers in Haryana. Farmers have now started commercial prawn farming, spread over 20 acres this year.
The technology was developed by W S Lakra, vice-chancellor, CIFE (Mumbai), and V Harikrishna, scientist, CIFE (Rohtak), and their team. Speaking to Business Standard, Harikrishna said, "There is big demand for prawns in domestic and export markets.
Currently, prawn farming is restricted to coastal areas as water is saline. As the nature of habitat in which shrimp is naturally found and commercially grown -coastal soil & seawater - is entirely different from inland conditions, the present innovation focuses on changing the chemical composition of inland water by designing specific and correct ionic concentration to make it suitable for growth, survival and commercial farming of shrimps. This has immense relevance in southwest Punjab, including the districts of Ferozpur, Faridkot, Muktsar, Bathinda."
Farming of tiger shrimps or prawns is lucrative as these have high export demand. It will also provide an opportunity to ensure there is nutritious fresh seafood in the northern parts.
The threat developed due to salinity problem in the northwestern part of the country will provide an opportunity to the farmers to earn higher income, generate self-employment and in rural development, he added. Parts of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar and Rajasthan have salt-affected soil, covering 2.8 million hectares. The groundwater quality is poor in these parts and cannot be used for irrigation.