GUWAHATI, Dec 5 – Fresh water prawn cultivation could be the next major prospect for fish farmers in Assam. For a state dependent on import of fish from outside, the development comes as a positive news promising succour to communities in rural areas.
Already some NGOs with support from the Department of Fisheries have demonstrated that such prawn, commercially known as scampi, can be reared in Assam bringing in rich economic benefits through considerably less investments.
Sources in the Department of Fisheries told The Assam Tribune that the potential for fresh water prawn cultivation is enormous. Recent harvests have proved that commercial rearing can bring a windfall to fish farmers. Scampi is much in demand as it is a rich source of protein and also considered a delicacy in this part of the country. “Yes it has a ready market in Assam, and some farmers have indeed made very good profits,” said a senior official of the Department.
The advantage for the fish farmers is mainly because of favourable agro climatic conditions of the region. Climatic conditions favour the bottom dwelling fish to thrive with other fish in the same pond or tank, which is an additional advantage.
Bolstered by the success of an NGO operating at Dimoria block, the Department is now seeking to replicate the success story in other districts, which include Lakhimpur, Morigaon and Nalbari with technical support from Central Government institutions.
Sources revealed that a major constraint in rearing prawns was in getting high quality seeds, but that problem has been resolved by creating new infrastructure to help farmers. A specialised hatchery has already been established in Guwahati and two more in Silchar and Dhubri are in advanced stages of completion.
According to reports received from a few cultivators, the issue of land area is not a big hurdle for rearing scampi. “Farmers can raise them in small tanks along with other fish, which are not bottom dwellers. Compared to many other fish they also fetch better prices,” said an official.
In Assam, those doing fresh water prawn cultivation reveal that 70-80 kg of prawns can be cultivated per bigha, which allows the additional opportunity to raise non-bottom dwelling fish in the same area.
Some NGOs are also planning to develop water bodies in reclaimed and degraded land, which will be a pioneering step in Assam.