Freshwater prawns and hatchery. (Photo: SEAFDEC/AQD)
New technology boosts prawn production
Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 02:10 (GMT + 9)
The Visayas State University (VSU) in Baybay City, Leyte will build prawn hatchery facilities to help local farmers take advantage of growing export opportunities.
VSU has created a way to escalate the production of prawns by following a model of an especially prolific farmer named Benjamin G Gerona Jr. He added freshwater prawns or “ulang” growing on top of his existing vegetable crops and tilapia and had a return on investment of 32 per cent.
The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is backing this as a development strategy to help maximize farmers' livelihoods.
Based on the VSU-Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) study, “Integrated Giant Freshwater Prawn and Vegetable Production”, when prawn farming was integrated by growers, studied farms made a net income of PHP 3,474 (USD 81.08) in the first cropping, PHP 12,890 (USD 300.85) in the second one, and PHP 16,182 (USD 377.68) in the third, for a total of PHP 32,497 (USD 758.46), The Philippine Star reports.
“The production of high-value products like prawn will significantly raise farmers' income. And diversifying sources of farm income is something that BAR supports”, said BAR Director Nicomedes P Eleazar.
VSU researcher Veronica L Reoma explained that VSU's College of Fisheries started planning for a hatchery expansion because farmers could not meet demand for the crustacean.
“We are considering expanding the hatchery in strategic areas where it can be more available for farmers for ease of transportation.”
VSU wants an intensified partnership with BAR on a proposed integrated prawn production.
The university targets the local market for prawns and Filipino producers will be able to exploit high Japan demand for their product.
A replica of Gerona's systems in his farm in Sogod, Leyte may aid freshwater prawn production in there and in other Visayas provinces.
“The technology on freshwater prawn is not yet popularized in Leyte island due to the lack of prawn fingerlings. But the net return in prawn culture and the demand could energize the farmers to shift from tilapia alone to prawn with vegetables along their ponds as trellis and shades for their pond”, said Reoma.
Gerona's multi-enterprise system involves a 300 sqm pond for the first cycle, two 300 sqm ponds for the second and one 300 sqm pond for the third cycle.
Feeds consist of commercial varieties combined with crushed golden kuhol (apple snails), fish trash and leftovers. Gerona then plants viny vegetables such as “upo” and squash.
The trellises from the vegetables complement the prawns by providing shade and thereby increasing the yield.
The VSU researchers advise training farmers on the production of freshwater prawn fry to ensure they have easy access to seed supply and have this in disease-free form.
By Natalia Real