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Shrimp Farming Transforms Haryana Farmers' Lives & Increases Profits by 10 Times

Shrimp farming is common in the coastal region. Yet, landlocked Haryana in the country's north is quickly developing as a state that is offering farmers experiencing low yield owing to salt a profitable alternative in prawn production. Notwithstanding its reliance on Southern and Eastern states for seed, feed, and export, farmers' profits have increased tenfold.

KJ Staff
Shrimp Farming Transforms Haryana Farmers' Lives & Increases Profits by 10 Times
Shrimp Farming Transforms Haryana Farmers' Lives & Increases Profits by 10 Times

"If prices and weather were all favourable, the net return from one acre in cultivating two crops a year was 40,000-50,000." The earnings from one shrimp crop a year is between 4 lakh and 5 lakh," said Gurdeep Singh of Bangu village in Sirsa district, Haryana's biggest producer, accounting for half of the state's shrimp production.

Singh, who is in his third year of shrimp (prawn) cultivation, has five one-acre ponds. He plans to increase the area later because it requires a lot of care and even some technical understanding on the side of the farmer to be effective.

Singh, who began with two acres, has inspired farmers in the neighbouring areas to the point where 100 acres will be dedicated to shrimp growing in 2022-23. Farmers from neighbouring districts in Rajasthan and Punjab are also flocking to the area to start prawn farming on leased property. The cost of land under lease for ten years, with a 5% annual rise, is currently 40,000-50,000 per acre, the same as it was for basmati rice in Haryana's Sonepat area.

"I paid 3 lakh as lease rent for 15 acres a few years ago, and today it is not accessible below 13 lakh," said Darshan Singh, another farmer from Raghuana village in the same district who is now practising shrimp farming on 66 acres, just five of which are his own. He stated that if the pond is larger than an acre, he only grows one crop due to the difficulty in finding skilled labour. Sirsa had only 26 acres under pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) was inaugurated in August 2020.

The land area has already grown to almost 1,200 acres. Farmers receive a 40% discount on the project cost of Rs 14 lakh per acre, which comprises Rs 8 lakh for infrastructure construction and Rs 6 lakh for input expenditures. In the case of SC/ST and female farmers, the subsidy is 50%. "It was not the subsidy alone that inspired us, but the cooperation from local officials," Darshan added, adding that the subsidy was even higher at 50% and the project cost was likewise 25 lakh under previous plans.

Jagdish Chandra, the district fishery officer in Sirsa, has greatly aided and motivated the farmers. "There are three different sorts of land here. One in which the groundwater is saline and the agricultural produce is incapable of producing a regular yield. The second is some wet regions that have been left barren since no crop can be grown there, and the third is desert terrain that has minimal water retention ability," Chandra explained.

He claimed that laying a layer of polythene sheet in each pond in both wet and arid terrain has helped farmers grow shrimp, but conceded that it is an extra expenditure that must be fulfilled every 5-6 years. Farmers, interestingly, are not complaining about anything except their electricity cost and insurance. They currently pay 4.75/unit for power, which they believe should be around 2/unit. They also want to be covered by the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

Shrimp producers indicated that, in addition to the state government, they receive technical assistance from seed businesses, mostly hatcheries in southern India, via local agents. Because prawn seeds arrive in Delhi through air cargo and are promptly transferred to the site by van, farmers intend to deposit the seeds in the pond as early as possible, preferably before 7 a.m. It is well known that prawn farming can take place in either a marine or freshwater environment. "But, Haryana's expansion demonstrates that it can also be done successfully in non-coastal salty soil," added Chandra.

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