India isn’t new to revolutions.
The Green Revolution in the mid-’60s resulted in an improvement in agricultural productivity, while the White Revolution in the ’70s made India self-sufficient in milk production through the cooperative structure.
And then, in the late-’80s, India witnessed the Blue Revolution, which dove into the previously untapped potential of aquaculture, specifically fish production as a form of self-sufficiency, nutrients, and economic growth for the country.
While the pan-India movement eventually died down in the last few decades, a new Blue Revolution seems to be coming up in and around the Gurugram region.
Pradeep Kumar, an ex-serviceman, is at its forefront.
Two years ago, after retiring from the Indian Air Force, Kumar moved back to his village, Jhanjrola, which is located in the Farrukhnagar Tehsil of Gurugram.
He soon heard of the Haryana government’s push for various aquaculture initiatives including shrimp farming and how many people were reaping good returns through subsidised schemes and rates.
Interested, he started inquiring and eventually, received the relevant information from the fisheries department in the district.
Understanding the need for proper training, Kumar attended a weeklong training session at Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE) in Mumbai.
Later he met a couple of farmers, who were already in the business and doing quite well. This further motivated Kumar, who then decided to invest in shrimp farming.
But he had to put his own money initially, as receiving the government subsidy, which is Rs 25 lakh per hectare, would take a long time. Also, he needed to find land where he could begin his business.
Fortunately, he was able to zero in on a four-hectare patch near his hometown itself for lease and christened it Mansarovar Shrimp Farm.
But there was a glitch—the land was barren and had saline water underground.
“This land had to be transformed to be made fit for shrimp farming. I made an initial investment of Rs 30-35 lakh entirely out of my pocket,” says Kumar to The Better India.
After constructing the ponds for farming in the land, the requirement was that of the parents for culture.
This, fortunately, is mobilised by the government that imports shrimp parents from Hawaii and raises the seeds in hatcheries equipped for post-larvae production in Visakhapatnam.
“These are then transported to Delhi, from where it takes about three-four hours to bring these to our farm,” Kumar adds.
Another important aspect was to maintain optimal dissolved oxygen level in the ponds for the survival and subsistence of the shrimps.
“There are several parameters which need to be strictly followed to ensure their health. Besides feeding the shrimps frequently, one has to constantly monitor the dissolved oxygen levels. If these are followed properly, the growth of one harvest would roughly range between 100-120 days, with each shrimp weighing up to 300 gm. What I would add is that absolute sincerity, along with 24×7 monitoring, as I have, is required for this venture. One can reap huge profits, and the first few harvests can easily cover your initial investment,” Kumar explains.
More than the money spent or profits received, what Kumar wants prospective shrimp farmers to focus is that well after the first harvest, one can find the culture doubling with every passing harvest.
“Including the operational costs, I’ve spent about Rs 5-6 lakhs per acre, but the results are worth the hard work and investment,” he adds.
Kumar also shares that many people, including existing farmers, have visited him after learning of his success in the venture.
“Most people wanted to start the same on their own and left inspired. Some of them have already started with their outings. There were also existing farms who took tips and guidelines from me to improve their own business,” shares a proud Kumar.
He mentions that anyone can pursue shrimp farming, hand the land requirement need not be as vast as he does.
“One can even do it within an acre of land. Although, technical expertise is mandatory no matter what the scale is. As most of the produced shrimp is exported abroad, this business plays a significant role in contributing to the national economy as well as providing employment,” he states.
Kumar is content with the way things have turned out for him and mentions that although he has been singlehandedly managing the farm and his business, he does employ 10-15 workers, of which few supervise the work while others help with the labour.
“Regarding the economics behind the venture, if I spend roughly about Rs 10-12 lakhs, I’m able to receive close to Rs 20-24 lakhs in returns. Which means, every four months per hectare, there is a profit of Rs 8-10 lakhs,” he adds.
He is exceptionally keen on hosting anyone who wishes to visit his farm or would like to learn the intricacies of the business from him.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)