August 14, 2020


Indian state's karimeen farming fails to meet demand


India's Kerala produces around 2,000 tonnes of karimeen annually through farming against a 10,000-tonne demand, according to estimates by the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture, New Indian Express reported.


Voicing concern over the below-par performance of pearl spot (karimeen) farming in Kerala, the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (ICAR-CIBA) based in Chennai has sought the support of the state government to boost the aquaculture production of Kerala's state fish.


It is high time that the state had a road map for the successful utilisation of highly prospective brackishwater resources of the state towards the betterment of pearl spot farming practices in Kerala, said K K Vijayan, director of CIBA, while speaking at a webinar held for fish farmers in Kerala. "Even as the fish has a huge demand and market value in the state, the pearl spot farming sector is stagnating, unable to yield the expected output given the potential resources," he added.


According to CIBA estimates, Kerala produces around 2,000 tonnes of pearl spot per annum through farming against a demand of 10,000 tonnes. "This data shows how far the state is lagging behind the targeted aquaculture production of this fish," Vijayan said. In a bid to increase production, the sector requires a solid network of farmers, government agencies and aquaculture experts for ensuring the quality seeds and feeds which are essential for the smooth functioning and growth of the farming practice, he said.


The CIBA director said that the institute successfully developed the technology of pair breeding of the fish that would help set up cost-effective modular units of pearl spot hatcheries and produce quality seeds for the farming in required quantities at the required time.


"The institute is ready to provide all scientific and technological support if the state government develops a road map to improve the sector. Farmers should be advised to follow scientific practices to make the ventures both profitable and sustainable. Under CIBA's guidance, a farmer is running a pearl spot hatchery in Alappuzha district and the institute provides species-specific feeds and technical support to farmers in different parts of the state. The model can be emulated across the state," Vijayan said.


The slow growth of pearl spot is one of the issues faced by aqua farmers as the fish would attain a weight up to 200g during a long farming period of one year.


"In order to tackle this, CIBA proposes to go for selective breeding of the species which would help farmers harvest the crops with a profitable growth rate within six months. A safe method of genetic improvement like in the case of tilapia, selective breeding is the future of pearl spot aquaculture that would become a milestone in the history of brackishwater aquaculture in Kerala. However, it requires a comprehensive plan and financial assistance from the state government as the process is likely to take up to five years costing INR5 to 10 crore for completion. In addition, coordinated efforts among the scientific community and the government are required to make this happen. If the government takes steps regarding this, CIBA will wholeheartedly support it by providing scientific expertise," the CIBA director said.