The shrimp farmers in Khulna who counted repeated losses due to virus attacks in farms and natural disasters are now showing greater interest in crab cultivation as it has proved to be more profitable than shrimp and its demand in the international market is on the rise.
Visiting different upazilas, the UNB correspondent found crab farming expanded in Dacope, Botiaghata, Dumuria, Paikgachha, Koyra, Rampal, Mongla, Bagerhat Sadar, Sharankhola, Shyamnagar, Ashashuni, Kaliganj and Debhata upazilas due to high profit and less chance of virus attack.According to Khulna Fisheries Office, over 6,989 mts of crab were produced on 28,546 hectares of land in Koyra, Paikgachha, Dumuria, Dacope and Botiaghata upazilas.
According to the Khulna office of Export Promotion Bureau, crab worth 26.81 lakh US dollars was exported in the last five months alone.
The country earned 2.691 lakh USD from crab export in June, while 3.97 lakh USD in July, 5.63 lakh USD in August, 9.25 lakh USD in September and 5.94 lakh USD in October this year, the sources said.
Bangladesh exports crab to China, Taiwan, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia. Crabs produced mainly in the Sundarbans areas are exported to these countries.
Talking to the UNB correspondent, local crab farmers said male and female crabs become exportable within three months, and they do not die during cold or heat wave like shrimp.
Crab farming is gaining popularity in the region because of the lower possibility of disease outbreak and high price in foreign markets, they added.Farmers sell crab at Tk 1,000 to Tk 1,200 per kg against Tk 700 to Tk 800 per kg shrimp.
Crab exporter Sheikh Wahiduzzaman told UNB that over 10mts of crab are sent to Dhaka from Dighraj wholesale crab market nearby Mongla River Port every day for export.
Md Arif Billah, proprietor of Messer’s Mahfuza Traders, said over 50 people are involved in crab business at Dighraj wholesale market.
“Earlier, the breeding season of crab was from January to February, but due to the changes in climate, now March and April have become the peak breeding season,” he added.
For the changes in production period, Billah said, businesses are facing losses as the authorities impose ban on crab catching in January and February.
The farmers are failing to get good output from crab farming due to the absence of modern technology, he said.
Dr Khaled Kanak, fisheries officer of Bagerhat, said 2,629 mts of crab were produced on 600 hectares land in Bagerhat Sadar, Rampal and Mongla upazilas in the last fiscal year.
Md Mashiru Rahman, fisheries officer Satkhira, said the farmers of Kaliganj, Debhata, Shyamnagar, Ashashuni upazilas produced some 3,200 mts of crab in 307 hectares of land in the district during the same period.
Two crab processing zones have been established in Satkhira’s Shyamnagar upazila, and one of them is ‘Shakib Agro Farm’ owned by cricketer Shakib Al Hasan and another is Farid Nine Empire Group.