Shrimp Farming Challenges in a Limited Local Market Landscape

Despite the fact that 40-60 per cent subsidy is available on starting shrimp farming, hardly any farmer is now showing interest in the venture in Muktsar district.

Just 18 more acres have been brought under shrimp farming in the district this year. Reason: Shrimp has not fetched good price in the past two years.

Presently, the total area under shrimp farming in the district is nearly 600 acres, which is almost half of the total area under shrimp farming in the state.

Shrimp farming requires saline water and the salinity level should be above 5 parts per thousand (PPT). In this district, land with such saline water is easily available due to waterlogging.

In 2016, shrimp farming was the brainchild of then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal when the trial was done on just one acre. He even used to appeal to waterlogging-affected farmers to convert their infertile land into shrimp ponds.

Besides, he used to bring top officers of the fisheries and agriculture departments along with him during his ‘sangat darshan’ programmes in villages.

The area under shrimp farming in Muktsar district was just one acre in 2016-17; five acres in 2017-18; 40 acres in 2018-19; 92 acres in 2019-20; 142 acres in 2020-21; 300 acres in 2021-22 and doubled to 590 acres in 2022-23.

Some shrimp farmers said that not only did prices remain low in the past two years, but the Fisheries Department also failed to release the subsidy on time. “Further, we demand cheaper electricity as we are waterlogging-hit farmers and are already debt-ridden,” said some shrimp farmers.

Kewal Krishan, Assistant Director, Department of Fisheries, Muktsar, said, “We have released the subsidy till last year. The only reason behind mild growth of shrimp farming this year is the decreasing price of shrimp. The average price of one kg of shrimp (40 counts of 25 gm each) was Rs 400 in 2021. It remained between Rs 250-300 last year. And the price this year remained Rs 300. It has reduced the profit of farmers and that’s why we got fewer applications. However, there is a huge scope for shrimp farming in the district as huge tracts are still waterlogging-affected. We are holding camps in villages to motivate the farmers. In a pond of one hectare, the average yield is 7 tonnes.”

He added, “There is hardly any local market for shrimp in the state. It is consumed in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. North America was its main importer, but now, it has started shrimp farming.”

Under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), the Centre and state government give 40 per cent subsidy to general category people and 60 per cent to SC/STs and women to start shrimp farming. Under this scheme, the Centre and state governments contribute 60:40 per cent share of the subsidy.

“It takes Rs 14 lakh to dig a pond on one hectare (2.5 acres), purchase seed, feed and equipment. Further, a farmer can avail the benefit up to two hectares (5 acres). The produce becomes ready between September and November,” he added.