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Shrimping as pathway to unlock export, local supply potential

Shrimping as pathway to unlock export, local supply potential

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Shrimp is one of the world’s healthiest sea foods eaten globally. But despite rising global demand for shrimps, there is hardly enough supplies to meet demand  over the years owing to the fact that over 50 per cent of the global supply still comes from wide sources, an indication that many countries are yet to adequately embrace shrimp farming.

Nigeria is blessed with an abundant supply of shrimps due to the country’s large coastal and mangrove ecosystem particularly  within the Niger Delta region.

However, this potential is not fully tapped as oil spillage and environmental pollution have affected natural shrimp production capacity of the country.

Nigeria presently exports about 12,000 metric tonnes of shrimps annually to countries in North America, Asia and Europe, although it has potential to increase the figure if private investors see the need to tap into the huge opportunity.

Its protein, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory content makes it a most desirable delicacy.

Health/nutritional benefits of shrimp: Shrimp contains a lot of essential nutrients. It’s one of the best protein-rich foods and also rich in vitamin B12. shrimp is the best way to prevent iron deficiency in the body. Shrimp prevents iron deficiency in the body and contains astaxanthin, a pink carotenoid, which can act as an antioxidant, protecting the skin from premature ageing. Also, the omega-3 fatty acids in shrimp work as antioxidants and help the body fight against harmful free radicals. Shrimp contains selenium, a substance that helps reduce the risk of cancer.

Starting off shrimp farming: Shrimp farming is known to be a profitable business, easy to start, cheap to maintain and takes a shorter time to get a good return on  investment. There are major steps to be taken when embarking on shrimp farming in order to ensure a successful venture. They include:

Location: The location of the shrimp pond is key to the success of the business. Of importance is a visible location; a location where people with the required purchasing power are, and a location that has minimal predators and the right climatic condition for the types of shrimps to be raised.

Swimming pools and other containers with good depth can be used for breeding freshwater shrimps. This, however, is not the best method for shrimp farming. Using a pond will always give a better yield than the swimming pool or container method. When cultivating salt water shrimps, it’s important to locate the pond close to warm and brackish water.

It is best for the pond to be close to the local market or prospective clients. With this, the stress and cost associated with transportation would be minimised. In addition, it is necessary to ensure that the pond is not too far from the shrimp larvae source, in order to reduce the stress of the animals when moving them from the hatchery to the pond. Ideally, the soil should have enough clay content which enables the pond to hold water.

Constructing the pond: In constructing the pond there is need to consider if you want the one phase pond or the two phase pond. In the one phase method, the juvenile shrimps are taken from the hatchery and introduced directly into the pond while in the two phase method, there is a main pond and a nursery. The nursery is used to cultivate the juveniles after which they are introduced to the main pond after a few weeks. In the nursery, the female shrimps can lay thousands to millions of eggs which usually hatch after a day. The hatched shrimp is called nauplii. The nauplii are fed algae and it takes about 12 days for them to develop into young shrimps. The shrimps are not transferred into the pond until after 25 days.

The construction of the pond depends on the method of shrimp farming intended. The methods include the traditional method; semi-intensive method; and intensive method.

The traditional method: In this method, shrimp farming is done with minimum intervention as the farm is located in the natural habitat of the shrimps, which is the coastal or mangrove areas. In this case, the seed stock is acquired from the wild and the quantity of supply depends on season. The pond can be as small as 3 hectares and as large as 20 hectares and can be stocked with 3,000-5,000 fry per hectare, which can give an annual yield of 500-800kg per hectare.

The semi-intensive method: This is an improvement over the traditional approach with a well-configured pond. The shape of the pond is rectangular and it is usually smaller than the traditional method. The size can be between 1 and 3 hectares while the depth should be around 0.8 to 1.2 meters. The pond system in this method has a ditch that facilitates the drainage of water and enables collection of shrimps during harvest. The ditch is diagonal in shape and is usually 5 to 10 meters wide and 30 to 50cm deep. The ditch also serves as a refuge for the shrimps during the hot season. The stocking rate for the semi-intensive farming is about 20,000 to 50,000 fry per hectare.

The intensive method: This is the best method of shrimp farming because it is the most financially rewarding method due to its much larger yield compared to the other methods. There’s a farming technology called Galveston or “clear water” hatchery, which employs the intensive method to breed shrimp on industrial scale. In large scale hatcheries, the diet of the young shrimp is augmented with commercial feed. In this case, big tanks are used to hold up to 30 tonnes. Also, seed stock can be produced all year round and stock the shrimp at much higher densities. However, there’s need for constant supervision as well as ensuring proper aeration to maintain optimal oxygen supply. Generally, survival rates are much higher and the yield is higher too, although the production cost is higher as well.

Nursing the shrimps: Fertilisers can be applied to the pond. This enhances the growth of the natural algae and phytoplankton the shrimps will feed on. As the shrimps grow, there will be need to supplement their feed because of the increase in their food consumption. These supplements include dry pellets, rice bran, chopped toad and frogs and household leftovers, which can be administered using feeding trays or automatic machine feeder. Every morning and evening and maybe afternoon, the shrimps should be fed, and once in a specific period, the water in the pond should be changed. There is need to partner with vet clinics around for proper care of the shrimps.

Harvesting: Harvesting is best done in the evening to prevent increased temperature and decreased volume of the water and oxygen levels in the water, which can lead to the death of the shrimps resulting in loss of business revenue.

In the first year, poor yield might be recorded if the pond is newly dug owing to inadequate build-up of algae or insect larvae for the shrimp to feed on, but over time, this will improve due to the gradual buildup of the much needed organic matter. To prevent disease epidemics and promote bountiful harvest, best shrimp farming practices should be employed.

Marketing: Before starting a shrimp farming business, the target market should be clearly defined to be able to know how to get the shrimps across to them. Create your own market; concentrate on households, individuals and also small restaurants and hotels who need shrimps. If shrimp processing and packaging can be successfully added to the shrimp farming business, which is what is called value addition, there is likely going to be little or no competition.

As a shrimp farmer, you have to prove that you have the capacity to supply shrimps in commercial quantities and on a consistent basis. So it will be better to first build capacity before sourcing to supply shrimps to larger hotels or food processing and packaging companies who require shrimps.

Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, hotels, restaurants, food processing and manufacturing companies that make use of shrimps and grocery stores in the country.

Open your shrimp farm with a party to capture the attention of residents who are your first targets. Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas. Engage in roadshows in targeted communities from time to time to sell your shrimp. Advertise your shrimp in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations. Employ the internet and social media platforms to promote your business and engage in direct marketing and sales. Join local chambers of commerce and industry around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your products; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sun

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