India released a specific pathogen free variety of shrimp for commercial aquaculture today. This promises to help marginal shrimp farmers and boost seafood exports from India.
The brood stock of the shrimp in question — Litopenaeus vannamei — have been developed for the first time in India by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA) in Tamil Nadu. These can now be supplied to hatchery operators at competitive prices, according to a government release. These selectively bred mother shrimps can produce high quality shrimp seed that grow fast and survive well in commercial shrimp farms in India.
Till now Indian shrimp hatcheries imported such brood stock from centres in USA, Thailand and Singapore incurring high shipping costs and massive transit losses. The average cost of brood stock was estimated at Rs. 5000. This also prompted some hatcheries to source brood stock from shrimp ponds which ultimately resulted in the production of poor quality seeds and subsequent crop loss to farmers.
About 80% of India’s shrimp farmers are estimated to be marginal and small scale and the success of their crop largely depends on the quality of seeds.
India’s export of marine products crossed US$ 3.5 billion for the first time in 2011-12 recording a growth of 6.02%. over the previous year. Frozen shrimps are the major export value item accounting for about half of the total US dollar earnings. One of the major reasons for the increase in production and higher export turnover was due to the introduction of L. vannamei shrimp for aquaculture production. However, one of the major obstacles to higher production was the non-availability of quality brood stock in India in the required quantity.
Government sources said this project will help Indian farmers produce 1.35 lakh metric tonnes of additional shrimp for export worth around Rs. 4000 crore per annum by utilizing about 10,000 hectare water spread area for two crops per every year. It will also deliver quality brood stock to shrimp hatcheries.
RGCA, in collaboration with the Oceanic Institute, Hawaii, USA has produced these selectively bred brood stocks that show good maturation/hatchery performance. Though L.vannamei is native to the Pacific coast of central and south America, it is popular among shrimp farmers worldwide due to the availability of selectively bred fast growing improved quality specific pathogen free (SPF) and specific pathogen resistant (SPR) seeds.