LAHORE: Punjab plans to develop two shrimp hatcheries in the province on an experimental basis to get rid of costly imports and promote local shrimp farming.
A senior official of the Punjab Fisheries Department told Dawn that shrimp bred only in seawater, but experiments were being successfully conducted for their breeding in salty water reservoirs of the Khewra salt range.
He said sea salts might also be dissolved in the water meant for the shrimp hatcheries to provide close-to-natural habitat to crustaceans in the Potohar area.
The department already executed a Rs2.64 billion pilot shrimp farming cluster development project on 2,500 acres two years ago. However, it was scuttled midway because of Covid-19.
The official said the department had approached the federal government this year requesting it to help end reliance on shrimp seed and feed imports by developing a hatchery along the country’s coastline, while Punjab will subsidise crustaceans feed by investing Rs250 million.
The federal government was accordingly establishing a hatchery at Lasbela in Balochistan on a war footing, which would complete during the ongoing financial year, he claimed.
He said Punjab had decided to expand the shrimp farming area from 2,500 to 7,200 acres to utilise salinity-hit and barren lands as the department would extend a subsidy of Rs120,000 per acre to farmers.
The department will also extend a 75pc subsidy on seed for the first year of farming and 50pc in the second year to attract the farmers to this species which is sold at higher rates than fish in the domestic and export market, he added.
Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmad, director (extension) Punjab Fisheries, confirmed the report and hoped the project would help the country reduce shrimp imports and earn income through exports, while a portion of 9m acres of wastelands in the country would also be put into use.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022