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Freshwater Prawn Farming


In the 1960s, Malaysia was the first country to farm freshwater prawns.  Today, however, Malaysia produces only 400 metric tons a year, while Bangladesh produces 40,000 tons and China produces 400,000, and Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia have larger prawn harvest than Malaysia.


Giva Kuppusamy, who is working on a Masters Degree in sustainable aquaculture, and his partner have decided to revive the prawn farming industry in Malaysia by starting a prawn hatchery, called “GK Aqua”.  They secured sole licensing rights for Malaysia from Tiran Shipping, Ltd., to introduce a unique biotech method of producing all-male prawns.


Giva Kuppusamy says, “When there are male and female prawns, the males have to fight with other males to get the female to mate.  When they fight, some will die.  Energy is diverted, and productivity goes down, which means feeding and operational costs go up.  And it takes 150 to 180 days to harvest these mixed-sex prawns.  But with our mono-sex ones, it takes only 90 days.”


Giva Kuppusamy injects a RNAi silencing chemical into a normal male prawn that blocks it from developing into a male and turns it into a neo-female.  This neo-female (genetically al male) can now produce eggs.  “Our pilot study shows that we can get 130% more yield this way compared to the conventional (mixed sex) prawn farming,” he said.


He says a one-acre pond can produce 1.2 metric tons of all-male prawns every six months.  “In a worst case scenario—if a farmer with a two-acre farm is really lousy and gets only a 30% to 40% survival rate for his all-male prawns—he can still get a net income of $714 to $952.  If he is good and there is a 60% to 70% survival rate, he would then be looking at an income of $1,428 to $1,666, after subtracting all the overhead expenses.”


Source:  Growing Big on Udang Galah.  Shahanaaz Habib.  September 24, 2017.


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