INDIA - In order to provide farmers with another alternative source of income, Goa is planning to opt for crab aquaculture in the state.
The state which is gifted with 101 km of coast line is planning to harness the coast as well as its main rivers; Mandovi, Zuari, Terekhol, Chapora kushavati and the Sal.
A source in the state government also said that they are planning to exploit khazan fields.
Due to low yields from salt-tolerant local varieties of paddy seeds like korgutt and azgo, khazan fields in Goa are generally neglected by farmers.
To make farmers aware of the financial benefits, the state fisheries department has plans to take up crab production demonstration in such khazan fields after the kharif paddy season (between October to May.
The state is planning to farm two breeds of crab, which includes scylla serrata and scylla oceanica and will also seek assistance from the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
MPEDA is already running crab cultivation projects in neighboring Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra and in Kerala.
The authority also subsidized the prices of crab seeds to famers, which is sold at $0.03 (Rs 2 per seed) and per seed can generate $16 to $24 (Rs 1000 to Rs 1500) after the nine month period to harvesting.
The crab seeds are given to farmers from MPEDA’s Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA) hatchery in Tamil Nadu which mass produces seeds and is one of the few mud hatcheries in the world.
The MPEDA official, while speaking to thefishsite.com, said that a farmer can get up to $1600 (Rs 1 lakh) per hectare of land from crab production.
Goa has about 18,000 hectare of khazan fields and there is huge opportunity for farmers to harness it to their benefit.
State fisheries director, Shamila Monteiro said that the state legislative assembly has agreed to crab farming and we are working on it.
The project modalities have been worked out that includes identification of fields to be brought under crab cultivation and finalization of the agriculture department under which the project will be done.
An official in Kerala based Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) said that commercial scale crab culture is fast developing in the coastal states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The scylla oceanica mud crabs are the more preferred as it grows to a maximum size of 1.5 kg and will not cause any damage to bunds or fencing arrangements in the culture system.
CMFRI has identified many states where crab cultivation is possible. As well as Goa, the list also includes West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, the official said.
With 18,000 hectares, Goa has the second largest field for crab farming, whereas Karnataka has about 8,000 hectare. Maharashtra is the leader in land suitable for crab farming with 80,000 hectare.