Poly Culture farming is a traditional farming system which was started by Japanese and many Asian countries in carrying out inland fish culture. Prawns too started growing with fish and was the beginning of prawn culture at commercial level. Monoculture which means culturing only males have proved good results with an attractive growth rate.
Today the answer for the declining prawn industry in Sri Lanka is Poly culture or crop rotation for a sustainable development and achieve the target of 5000 Mt for the year 2005.
The production cost per kilo of prawns in the year 1989 was Rs. 200 and below with the feed price at Rs. 50 fetching an export price of US $ 12 to 16 to EU, Japan and USA. Today the export price is as low as 10 to 12 US$ and the cost of production is almost Rs. 550 per kilo of prawns. If the survival rate is low it is a case of loss for the fanner in addition to the risk of ‘white spot disease’ with 100% crop failures. Prawn feed price which is also in the hands of the private traders subjected to high commissions, which is even not recorded with the tax department, is yet another issue for the prawn farmer along with the rocketing fuel price for power generation.
Many approved farmers have faced heavy losses and being unable to generate funds to pay up bank loans for above reasons. The treasury is handling this issue very athletically as far as the high exposure by approved farmers with bank loans on accrued interest which is beyond the control of the farmer.
The non payment to banks are unintentional in many cases. But many banks are threatening legal action and demanding payment from farmers, which is not reasonable
The crop failure is mainly due to the negligence of many government institutions which ignored the damages by unauthorised farmers to the environment very specially to the mangrove belt. Furthermore direct discharge of water and blocking flood planes and low lying areas by unauthorised farmers have resulted in a heavy drop on the tidal movement of the water body.
This means causing a longer residence time in the water body with contaminated effluents which directly affects biodiversity. The natural resources, and natural way of cleaning the water body is completely declined causing an unbalanced ecosystem. This is the result of declining production and the socio economic conflict of the Puttalam district where the government has spent billions of rupees to overcome the devastated condition of our natural resources.
ONE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT THE environment IS HELD IN TRUST BY THE PRESENT GENERATION FOR POSTERITY.
Our future generation would curse us if action is not taken to rehabilitate the environment from the present devastated condition.
The government of Sri Lanka must declare a policy that prawn farming could be carried out only with Poly culture or crop rotation and explore the possibility of entering the global market on the products used for poly culture or crop rotation. Although the attractive prices are seen in supermarkets in the globe, it doesn’t mean that you could enter it at any time and fetch the consumers price. We have to study the way out to enter the wholesale or importers chain as it is yet another mafia that governs the stability of the global market.
A prawn farm funded by Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotalawala switched on to Ploy culture after a trial and error method when the prawns were affected with the white spot. This has proved to be very successful and more environmentally favoured which has drawn the eye of many researchers, NARA, NAQDA and the Asian Development Bank team promoting inland fisheries. The Prawn farmers should decide on environmentally favoured culture systems to maintain sustainability of the prawn industry.