Tippaguntapalam, Jan 13: “The flood in Nellore district during the last month will have a calamitous impact on the country’s prawn exports in 2015-16”, fears Pawan Kumar Reddy, a prawn cultivator in the village of Tippaguntapalam in Andhra Pradesh.
The heavy rains that ravaged the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have wiped prawn ponds of about 8,000 hectares. With the tank bunds getting washed away across the district, shrimp farms have been obliterated, causing steep losses to farmers.
V.L. Ramanareddy, a land owner said, “The ponds cannot be cultivated again till the sand layer is removed, new roads are laid and power supply is restored.”
Ramanareddy added that the fishing pipes, aerators and water pumps that were destroyed during the floods will not be compensated by the government as they fall under the category of economical losses, and the government can only compensate for the commercial losses.
Andhra Pradesh has exported 2.79 lakh metric tonnes of shrimp during the previous year. Out of which, Nellore had contributed 32,000 metric tonnes.
A prawn cultivation cycle which usually takes three months for harvest is a particularly risky business for farmers as the cultivation can either yield a 100 per cent or their won’t be any yield, said a farmer who losses cumulated to 83 lakhs this year.
Most of the prawns cultivated in the villages of Andhra Pradesh are exported to Vietnam and Philippines. There have been reports of prawn exports returning back to India because of the poor quality of product exports due to the floods.
B. Chakarvarthy, Marketing Head of Avanti Feeds which supplies shrimp feeds to the farmers for the cultivation said that the about 485 million seeds were washed away during the floods out of which 70 per cent were in cultivation.
Coastal Agricultural Authority (CAA) Commissioner Ram Shankar Naik who camped in Nellore to supervise the relief operations said, “Each farmer had spent about Rs. 3 lakh on each hectare for seed, feed, power, labour and other infrastructure. But, the equipment was totally destroyed and in some ponds the machinery was washed away in floods. The total losses would amount to Rs. 250 crore.”
Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) Deputy Director S. Kandan said many transformers, electric poles, aerators, generators, motors, pipelines, feed stocks, boats and other material were damaged or washed in the recent floods.
“November is the harvest season for aqua farmers. We will petition the government to compensate for these losses at the earliest so that the farmers can begin the cultivation soon.” added Dr. Kandan.