Environmentally-friendly aquaculture techniques can lead to new jobs in Sri Lanka's eastern province. (Photo: Stock File)
US-funded study encourages aquaculture
Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
A study report funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has identified aquaculture investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. Aquaculture has the potential for important growth due to the suitable land and solid seafood export demand.
The report also notes the aquaculture products most fitting for export and roadblocks to be surpassed to encourage investment and development in the private sector. New jobs can be created in the country’s eastern portion through environmentally-friendly aquaculture techniques, it said, according to a press release issued by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka.
Cage-raised sea bass, tilapia raised in traditional ponds and mud crabs, among other farmed fish and seafood, are selling profitably in the country’s urban markets and may do so in foreign markets as well.
Europe and Asia especially are big markets for sea bass, and buyers from the Persian Gulf are already visiting Sri Lanka wanting to place large orders for tilapia.
Because of strict international standards for proper cultivation, harvesting, processing, handling and transport that must be met for farmers to sell in foreign markets, however, Sri Lankan fish farmers, transporters and exporters will have to collaborate effectively, the report pointed out.
The study also found that Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province offers investors a wide range of apt sites to choose from for aquaculture activities: lagoons, marshes, mud flats and other saline areas relatively free of human intervention.
Aquaculture can be developed here to create employment in a way that complements existing fishing efforts without competing. The right aquaculture practices will help support efforts to protecting the province’s coastal habitats.
Because prawn and shrimp farming, once thriving businesses in Sri Lanka, were impacted by diseases that decimated the shrimp culture industry, the report encourages using new pathogen-free shrimp. Still, it recommends that investors consider alternatives such as farming tilapia and milkfish, species easier to raise and more resistant to disease.
Shrimp and prawn farms abandoned during the civil war could now be rehabilitated to provide new jobs for locals.
This aquaculture study is one of seven assessments funded by the US Embassy’s USAID/Sri Lanka through its Connecting Regional Economies (CORE) project. The latter connects producers in the Eastern Province, Uva Province and North Central Province to urban markets and exporters around Colombo and the western coast.
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By Natalia Real