Crab cultivation is replacing shrimp cultivation in the district because shrimp and prawn are frequently attacked by virus.
“Regular attacks by viruses has caused us losses and we got discouraged to cultivate shrimp. Some shrimp cultivators had to leave their area for not being able to pay off their debts. Moreover, the demand for shrimp has decreased in the overseas market. So the farmers are cultivating crab to overcome the losses incurred in shrimp cultivation and to earn profit,'' said Moazzem Hossain, a farmer of Shreefaltala village under Rampal upazila.
“In the last few years, the price of shrimp has decreased by almost 50 percent. As a result, the farmers had to give up shrimp cultivation and start cultivating crabs,'' he added.
“I am cultivating crabs in 10 ponds on three acres of land, using the box and girdle method,” said Arindom Mondol of Sadar upazila.
“We buy crab weighing around 100 grams each from nearby warehouse for Tk 200 to Tk 250 per kg. They bring the crabs from the Sundarbans,” he added.
“After making the land ready we release the small crabs into the ponds and feed them small fish like puti, tengra, mola, '' the farmer said.
“I was a shrimp cultivator but now I am cultivating crabs as they are not attacked by diseases like shrimp. We can collect crabs at least five times in a year,'' he said.
“Although we sell crabs all the year round, the prices are higher in January and February. We sell about 2.5 tonnes and make a profit of around Tk 10 lakh,'' he added.
“There is a huge demand for crabs in February, and we can sell them for Tk 2,400 to Tk 2,500 per kg,” said farmer Asgor of Rampal.
District Fisheries Officer Zia Haider Chowdhury said about 3,500 crab enclosures have been set up in 1.5 thousand hectares of land in different upazilas of the district since 2015. Most of the farms are in Rampal upazila, where 1,500 farmers are cultivating crabs on 450 hectares of land.
The fisheries officer said attacks by diseases have increased and the prices of shrimps have also declined in foreign countries, as a result, many cultivators of the district have started cultivating crabs.
Rampal Upazila Senior Fisheries Officer Ripon Kanti Ghosh said the price of crabs is very high in the world market, adding that farmers earn good profit with little investment.
“Farmers started cultivating crabs in 2015 under the Kuchia and Crab Farming and Research Project. With the help of the project, we train the farmers on cultivation of crabs in demonstration farms. At present, there are about 3,500 crab enclosures in Bagerhat,'' he added.