Thiru. M.K.Sethuraman, an innovative shrimp farmer and President of the Pamini River Shrimp Farmers Association(PRSFA) in Thambikottai Keelakkadu village of Thiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu has made a triumph by producing a very low count (number of shrimps per kg), large sized tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) of 16.20±1.78 count per kg. The average length of the harvested shrimp was 187.83 ±6.60 mm with an average body weight of 64.48 ± 3.23 g. The male-female ratio was 5:20. The duration of the crop was 169 days with an average growth rate of 2.7 g per week. The farmer stocked about 88,000 post larvae (8/m2) of the shrimp and reported the survival rate of 80%. He has achieved a bumper production of 4470 kg/ha with a Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) of 1:1.6. The following were the salient production practices adopted by the farmer.
- Proper drying of the pond bottom for about four months during the intercrop period.
- Scrapping the pond bottom and removing the black soil thoroughly.
- Avoided ploughing and liming since the pond soil pH was at an optimum of 8.0-8.2.
- Applied a soil probiotic to enhance the soil fertility.
- Applied zeolite @ 50 kg/ha as basal dose.
- Water was pumped in the farm after double filtration system.
- Water was allowed for settlement of sediments for 3 to 4 days.
- Bleaching of the initial water using 40 ppm active chlorine
- Maintained pond water depth at five feet level.
- Applied fermented organic juice and probiotic for algal bloom development and its stability.
- Maximum care was taken for assessing the seed quality by PCR screening of the seed at PL 8, PL-12 and PL14/15 in addition to the physical, chemical and biological screening at the hatchery. The seed growth rate was strictly monitored in the hatchery and only quality seed with a length of 11.3 mm was taken for stocking. The seed was packed @ of 1200-1500 numbers in 5 litres of water and transported to the pond site in 4 to 5 hours from the hatchery. The stocking was done in the morning, after the sun rise to have better Dissolved Oxygen (DO) in the pond water.
Avoided external feeding for the initial 4 to 5 days and stock was dependent only on natural feeding. Artificial feed was given at the rate of twice a day, from the 5th day onwards. Only after 20 days of stocking, strict feed management was followed. The feed ration for the night and early morning was reduced to adjust to the low DO level. Feed rationing and management were purely based on check tray monitoring. The feed probiotic was given after 20 g of shrimp growth by mixing @ 1g/kg of feed and supplied with two meals/day. The FCR was found to be around 1:1.6.
- Followed zero water exchange for the first 30 days and after that 10% bottom water was exchanged, following flow through method.
- Aeration was initiated after 30 days of stocking using aerators corresponding to the feed quantity and it was maintained @ one HP aerator for every 200 kg of standing biomass.
- The farmer was of the opinion that for achieving higher growth in shrimp, ensuring 5 feet depth of pond water in proper bloom condition at pre-stocking stage, quality shrimp seed, low stocking density, proper feed management, water exchange by means of ‘flow through’, and adequate aeration @1 hp for every 200 kg of standing biomass and reservoir were essential.
- The production cost was Rs. 210/kg and a premium price of Rs. 600/kg was received by the farmer for the lowest count that he has achieved.
- This farm is part of the shrimp cluster of 320 ponds under a strong farmers’ association enforcing strict adoption of Better Management Practices.
- Though it is generally believed by a section of farmers that white shrimp (Litopenaus vannamei) culture is highly profitable, the indicative economics of low count tiger shrimp farming as practiced by the farmer has shown that the low count tiger shrimp farming with the adoption of better management practices is also quite remunerative.
A. Cost of production per kg: Rs. 210
B. Production per ha: 4,470 kg
C. Sale price per kg: Rs. 600
D. Cost of total production (A*B): Rs. 9, 38,700
E. Returns realized (B*C): Rs. 26, 82,000
F. Profit per ha (E-D) : Rs. 17,43,300
G. Benefit Cost Ratio (E/D) : 2.86
Mr.M.K.Sethuraman is a post graduate in commerce and has about 18 years of experience in shrimp farming. He is the architect of the Thambikottai Keelakkadu shrimp farm cluster which has been the ‘role model’ for ‘group approach” to shrimp farming’. He is a ‘farm opinion leader’ and guides the shrimp farmers in his neighbourhood on better management practices. His unique concept of collective crop planning and seed procurement, compensation based disease management and market linked group management keeps the association PRSFA very strong and successful over the years. He is the source of inspiration and sought after by the farmers of other districts to guide them in implementing group approach to shrimp farming. He is a strong proponent of tiger shrimp and believes that tiger shrimp alone would give a niche for India in the shrimp aquaculture. Recognizing his leadership in promoting group approach to shrimp aquaculture, the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) conferred on him the “Brackishwater Aquaculture Farm Innovator” award in 2011.
Success Story Compilation by: Dr.M. Kumaran, Senior Scientist, CIBA