Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Shrimp cultivation in Hambantota gets a boost via private investors

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): The Government has decided to allocate a plot of 218 acres and 30 perches of State-owned land in Hambantota district to boost the commercial aquaculture sector.

Following a joint proposal, the Cabinet of Ministers approved to provide a total of 109 acres and 15 perches of land each, on a 30-year lease basis to W.S.R. Lowe and K.M.N. Aqua Services Ltd. and Rainbow Foods Ltd., for ‘Vannamei’ shrimp cultivation.

The move aligns with broader efforts to enhance the country’s aquaculture output, ensure food security, and boost foreign exchange earnings through exports.

Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena said the two entities were selected following a rigorous Government procurement process. The lease arrangements are based on the Government assessor’s evaluation.

Shrimp farming constitutes a vital component of Sri Lanka’s commercial aquaculture practices. With a production output of 14,414 tons in 2021, the country is targeting a substantial increase to 50,000 tons by 2025.

“There is a good demand for ‘Vannamei’ shrimp in the global market. This ambitious goal aims to generate foreign exchange earnings equal to Rs. 65,500 million (around $ 208,000). The limited availability of suitable land for aquaculture posed a challenge to expanding this sector further,” he explained.

To overcome this challenge, the National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka has embarked on a series of strategic measures. Among them is the introduction of modern technology designed to achieve high productivity within confined spaces.

As part of this strategy, a plot of 218 acres and 30 perches of State-owned land located in the Ambalantota Divisional Secretariat Area within the Hambantota district have been identified as conducive for ‘Vannamei’ shrimp cultivation.

This specific species of shrimp is known for its ability to complete a culture cycle in a relatively short period. The utilisation of this land for Vannamei shrimp farming is expected to facilitate achieving production targets while optimising land usage efficiently.

The joint proposal put forth by Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Lands Minister Harin Fernando was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers at its meeting on Monday.

Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has been promoting intensification of shrimp production as well as diversification into other high-value species.

In Puttalam, to intensify shrimp production, the National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA) plans to enhance technological input, such as improved water reticulation and bio security in farms, and to introduce Litopeneaus vannamei, which has higher growth rates and productivity compared with Peneaus monodon.

Currently, the L. vannamei breeding technology is being piloted in Mannar. Investment in nontraditional high-value species such as sea cucumber, seaweed, sea bass, mud crab, and other finfish has been gradually increasing.

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