Comparative Economics of Traditional vs. Scientific Shrimp Farming Systems: A Study of Smallholders Shrimp Culture in West Bengal Public Deposited

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  • The advent of scientific shrimp farming in India during 1990-91 was a turning point of shrimp production in the country. Though scientific shrimp farming system renders higher level of production than the existing traditional farming system, it is subject to certain criticisms especially for generating negative environmental externalities. The conversion of agricultural lands into shrimp ponds is a widely debated issue in the literature. In this light the present paper aims at a comparative economic analysis of these two farming systems in the context of smallholders shrimp culture in West Bengal. The analysis is based on a survey of 110 traditional and 101 scientific farmers during 2004-2005 who have started household level shrimp farming by converting their agricultural land as well as existing ponds. This paper tries to integrate the sustainability issues related to shrimp culture by incorporating social costs borne by the paddy farmers who are affected by the shrimp culture due to seepage of saline water into their land. Net present value (NPV) has been calculated considering the opportunity cost of converting agricultural lands into shrimp ponds as well as the social costs over a fifteen years time frame under two alternative scenarios - 1) reusing the land for agriculture and 2) using the land for aquaculture with necessary crop holidays and crop rotations by culturing lower value fishes. Results of the study indicate that in the long run net benefit of traditional farming system overrides the net benefit from scientific farming when we take into account the opportunity costs and the social costs. The analysis suggests that enough attention and facilities should be provided to the low yielding small scale traditional shrimp farmers keeping in mind the long term economic viability and environmental sustainability of this system.
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  • Bhattacharya, Poulomi. 2006. Comparative Economics of Traditional vs. Scientific Shrimp Farming Systems: A Study of Smallholders Shrimp Culture in West Bengal. In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, July 11-14, 2006, Portsmouth, UK: Rebuilding Fisheries in an Uncertain Environment. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, Corvallis, Oregon, USA, 2006. CD ROM. ISBN 0-9763432-3-1
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