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Prawn prices fall, aqua farmers worried

Prawn prices fall, aqua farmers worried
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Highlights

The aqua farmers are caught between the traders and the unscrupulous middlemen. While the government has been walking all the way to banks with the income generated from aqua culture, it paid no attention to the plight of the farmers cultivating prawns.

Many aqua farmers who incur losses are still persisting with the prawn culture to earn profits in future. While they could make
profits, hundreds of others incurred losses

Kakinada: The aqua farmers are caught between the traders and the unscrupulous middlemen. While the government has been walking all the way to banks with the income generated from aqua culture, it paid no attention to the plight of the farmers cultivating prawns.

The farmers accused the traders of hiking the prices at the beginning of the season and slashing those of the prawns during the time of harvest. The profits and losses from the aqua-sector showed huge gaps. The farmers are frequently getting caught in the teeth of marketing web. There is no scope for price stabilisation and also no cold storage facilities to enable the farmer to sell the prawns when the prices are higher.

Many farmers took up aquaculture for their livelihood as the prices were good from the beginning of the year and the weather favourable. As a result, thousands of acres have been transformed into aqua ponds. However, the prices of prawns have been slashed during the past ten years on the pretext of ice shortage. Unable to do anything, the aqua farmer has been making a distress sale of prawns. Even if the farmer harvested a crop, the profits are being cornered by traders. In case of crop failure, the losses to the farmer would run into lakhs of rupees.

During the past one month, a kg of prawns (30 prawns) came down from Rs 430 to Rs 360. Prawns numbering 40 are being sold at Rs 270 (earlier Rs 340). 60 prawns are sold at Rs 250 (previously Rs 310) and prawns numbering 100 are sold at Rs 180 (earlier Rs 230).

As the prices crash, the cost of cultivation goes up. Input costs such as feed, seed, diesel, medicines and so on are going up every year. The farmers would not have minded the input cost escalation had the open market price of prawns been very good.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu appreciated aquaculture as it is one of major contributor to the state’s exchequer. However, the prawn prices are decided by a few marine exporters. As the prawns flood the market, the purchasers are reducing the price. Many aqua farmers who incurred losses are still persisting with the prawn culture to earn profits in future. While a few of the farmers could make profits, hundreds of others incurred losses.

The aqua farmers have been urging the government to focus their attention in controlling the costs of aqua feed and medicines and demanding it to ensure that there is no price fluctuation at the time of sowing the seeds and harvesting the crop. The aqua farmers have urged the State government to extend support to them.

BY Adapa Appa Rao

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