Bhutan begins giant freshwater prawn culture trial

 Prawn culture trial infrastructure

Prawn culture trial infrastructure

Gelephu: A trial culture of a highly prized crustacean-the giant freshwater prawn/shrimp (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) has begun at the National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA), Gelephu from April 21 with three research pond stocks of 30,000 PL-10 prawn seeds.

The trial will evaluate the costs and benefits of culturing the giant freshwater prawn on a medium scale in Bhutan toward understanding its potential to become a livelihood option for Bhutanese farmers. Since the absence of brackishwater/seawater makes the production of prawn seeds in Bhutan very difficult, the culture of the crustacean in the country must depend solely on importing seeds from the nearest foreign country. This would not only make culture of giant freshwater prawn in Bhutan a costly affair, but also an extremely challenging one. Thus, the Ministry is desirous of understanding exhaustively the pros and cons of undertaking giant freshwater prawn culture in the Bhutanese context so that it can properly guide farmers and entrepreneurs who may choose to adopt it.

Table-sized prawns
Table-sized prawns

Preparations for the trial began in April 2014, when the Ministry though the Department of Livestock (DoL) directed the NCA to undertake it. It took the NCA exactly one year to prepare the trial infrastructure, ready consumables, train personnel and outsource prawn seed from India. The seed was acquired from a government certified prawn hatchery in West Bengal, India and airlifted to Bhutan; it took the PL-10 prawns 19 hours to reach NCA.

The NCA’s trial will last for about six months, from April till November 2015 during which the prawn will be fed locally available feed materials such as mustard oil cake and rice bran. In November, the prawn will be harvested and thereafter, a comprehensive report with appropriate recommendations will be submitted DoL for onward submission to the Ministry.

Submitted by NCA

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