Raichur prawns make their way to kitchens on the coast

Can you imagine people in coastal Karnataka sourcing prawns from Raichur district? A team of young aquaculture enthusiasts from Devasugur village in Raichur have turned this idea into a profitable, small-scale business.

Sarvesh Rayadu, Satish Doddi, Venkatesh Bhootapalli, Suresh Patil and Rajkumar Varapete, with a background in horticulture, ventured into the freshwater prawn farming about six months ago in Raichur, a region that usually reels under drought in the summer.

During the lockdown, the prawns reared by these enthusiasts were in heavy demand in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada and even in Mumbai, with their business seeing a decent growth. 

During a visit to Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, Sarvesh Rayadu and Suresh Patil came across farmers who were involved in freshwater prawn cultivation. Considering its potential, they decided to undertake a similar venture in Raichur.

They started the commercial prawn farming project in December 2019. Instead of undergoing training themselves, the team chose to involve local farmers in their project, by offering them attractive remuneration.

Twelve ponds were constructed in Suresh Patil's 12 acres land located near River Krishna. Pumps were installed at various locations to keep the water aerated, as the biggest challenge in cultivating prawns in freshwater farms is maintaining the required oxygen level; the prawn larvae were brought in from Kakinada, in Andhra Pradesh. In all, the team had invested Rs 1.2 crore into the venture, and in three months, the prawns were ready to be harvested.

Stroke of luck

While preparations were underway to sell the prawns in Raichur, the ban on fishing in the coastal districts of Karnataka during the Covid-19 lockdown triggered a heavy demand. The district administration and horticulture department issued them passes to transport prawns to various locations, helping them earn decent profits.

At present, one kilogram of prawns is sold for anywhere between Rs 300 to 500, with the bigger prawns fetching a premium.

“The food for prawns is imported from Thailand. Granules are prepared using soyabeans, maize and other grains. Banana and other fruits are used to prepare juices. These are offered to the prawns as food,” Sarvesh Rayadu says. The prawns don’t consume any fish, insect and meat, he adds.

The project has generated employment opportunities for over a dozen women, who have been employed to clean the prawns and pack them. They clean and pack the prawns on Saturday and Tuesday evenings, while the boxes are dispatched on Sundays and Wednesdays. Currently, about one tonne of prawns are sold locally every week. The remaining prawns are sent to other districts.

(Translated by JA)

Let's block ads! (Why?)