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September 10, 2015


Moana Technologies and MKA Hatchery

Interviews with Management and Trainees at MKA Hatchery


From May 10 to September 6, 2015, Moana Technologies, a shrimp broodstock supplier in Hawaii, fielded a team of hatchery operation specialists to strengthen operations at MKA Hatchery, a shrimp hatchery in Bangladesh.  Moana provided training in handling and breeding its specific pathogen free (SPF) broodstock.  The training and technology transfer included training in artificial insemination, natural mating, the introduction of a new species of algae (Thalassiosira) as a larval shrimp feed, new larval feeding strategies, improved water management strategies and quantitative methods to measure larval health and postlarvae quality.  The training was successfully completed and interviews were conducted with hatchery management and technical personnel to learn the effectiveness of the training and how it has contributed to improve hatchery operations.



Goutam Bhattacharjee


Goutam Bhattacharjee serves as MKA General Manager.  He is in charge of day-to-day hatchery administration which includes recruiting and hiring hatchery personnel, procurement of hatchery supplies, administration and management of accounts and payroll, human resources and coordination of shipment of hatchery-produced postlarvae to customers.


Question: How long have you been General Manager of MKA Hatchery and how many years has this hatchery been in production using wild broodstock?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: I was hired as GM in January 2014 and have been with the SPF shrimp program from the beginning.  MKA hatchery began operations with wild broodstock in 2007.


Question: What have been the major challenges in making the transition from production with wild broodstock to production with domesticated broodstock?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: Shipping mortality of SPF broodstock from Hawaii was initially very high, and then after shipping mortality and shipping stress were controlled, we faced difficulty learning artificial insemination.  At first nauplii production was very low, and we were not getting the commercial quantities needed to stock our standard, 40-ton, larval rearing tanks.


Question: How has the training team helped to overcome these challenges?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: Balachandar made improvements to the way we were practicing artificial insemination, and Hank Bauman introduced a system for natural mating that reduced labor and increased maturation performance.  Kenny Matamoros introduced a new system of pure culture of algae with a strain that was more stable in outdoor culture.  It increased our larval survival.  Jake Bauman introduced the use of Excel spreadsheets for feeding broodstock, feeding larvae and water management.  He also instituted a system of daily microscopic examination of larvae and taught us how to evaluate health and quality of larvae and PLs.  The operation is now much more scientific.


Question: Are you satisfied with the results from the training of your technical team and the production that you have been able to achieve?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: I am now satisfied, but six months ago, before the arrival of the new training team, I was not so sure.


Question: How have your customers responded to the first time availability of SPF domesticated shrimp fry in Bangladesh?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: SPF is a new concept and many customers don’t understand the values of SPF shrimp.  But customers are interested to learn and the number of interested customers is increasing.  We rely on our partners from World Fish and the Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation to get the message to small farmers.


Question: What do you think will be the future of SPF domesticated shrimp in Bangladesh?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: Our future is bright.  SPF will fully change our shrimp industry because they are disease free and the quality of the fry is better.


Question: How do you think that SPF shrimp will change the way shrimp is farmed in Bangladesh?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: Because it is disease free the production will be higher.  Farmers will be willing to stock more, and production will increase.


Questions: Do you have plans to expand operations so that you may increase production and serve more farmers with SPF PLs?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: Yes we expect demand from farmers to be high, and we plan to expand to meet the demand.


Question: How has the training helped your decision making regarding expansion?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: We have weekly meetings and make decisions on how to make improvements and how to maintain biosecurity.  Now I have confidence to expand because my technical staff has benefitted from the training.


Question: Was the time the training team spent on the project sufficient to absorb all the information needed for future expansion?


Goutam Bhattacharjee: They spent enough time to teach the basic concepts of working with SPF broodstock, but for future expansion it would be better to have more technical support.  Problems may come up that we have not yet seen, and other hatcheries will need training.



Taslim Mahmood


Taslim Mahmood is the MKA Hatchery Operations Manager and coordinates the efforts of a team of technicians for rearing broodstock, broodstock maturation and spawning, algae production and rearing of shrimp larvae.  Each functional area of the hatchery has a lead technician that reports to the Operations Manager.  He is responsible for overall hatchery operations strategy and production.


Question: What is your education and experience, and what brought you to MKA hatchery?


Taslim Mahmood: I am a Marine Science graduate and post graduate from Marine Fisheries and Resource Management.  I have 19 years of experience in Marine Science and 19 years in marine fish and shrimp hatcheries.  I have been a hatchery manager for 12 years and have been with MKA for one year.


Question: What made you interested in SPF shrimp and how do you think this technology will transform the way shrimp is farmed in Bangladesh?


Taslim Mahmood: SPF is free from all types of disease and genetically improved, but not genetically modified (GMO).  Bangladesh was infected with the whitespot virus from shrimp imported from Thailand.  Wild broodstock are now affected.  Due to disease farm production is very low.  Disease is the biggest constraint to growth.  Introduction of SPF will enable farmers to increase production and the industry will grow.


Question: How have your technicians adapted to the changes in operations from when you had to depend of wild broodstock?


Taslim Mahmood: I have learned a lot from Moana’s technical staff starting with Benito, Hank, Jake and Kenny.  They taught my staff and me how to handle the Moana animals.  My staff is very interested to learn new technologies, and through hard work we had to learn how to raise the SPF animals, how to breed them and how to raise the larvae.


Question: Was the training program sponsored by the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation grant helpful in assisting your technicians to adapt and learn new management strategies?


Taslim Mahmood: Yes, very helpful.  We were struggling with production until the technical team arrived.


Question: What were the most important contributions made by the technical team from Moana Technologies?


Taslim Mahmood: They taught us how to breed the animals using artificial insemination and natural mating.  They introduced the pure culture of Thalassiosira and taught us how to produce larvae without the use of antibiotics.


Question: How have you changed your management to adapt to the use of SPF broodstock?


Taslim Mahmood: When I worked with wild broodstock I used a lot of chemicals.  When I work with Moana’s animals, I no longer use chemicals and therapeutics.  Moana animals are free from disease and can be raised chemical free.


Question: Are you satisfied with the results of the technical training?


Taslim Mahmood: Yes, I am very satisfied.  We now have the best hatchery technology in Bangladesh.



Sayed Alum


Sayed Alum is the lead technician for maturation and breeding.  His daily responsibilities are to maintain water quality through water exchange and siphoning of tanks, feeding of broodstock and daily examination of broodstock to select spawners and transfer them to spawning tanks.  After spawning he estimates the number of eggs spawned, monitors egg development, hatching rates, nauplii quality and maintains records on the number of nauplii produced.


Question: What is your education and experience and how long have you worked at the MKA hatchery?


Sayed Alum: I completed my primary education at the age of 12.  I am now age 22 and I have 4 years of experience working at the MKA hatchery.


Question: You were trained in artificial insemination and in natural mating.  Which system do you like best and why?


Sayed Alum: I prefer the natural mating system because it requires less labor than artificial insemination.  It is also easier on the animals, and we experience much less broodstock mortality.  Nauplii production is also better with natural mating.  We get more spawns per day, a higher hatch rate, and the quality of nauplii is better.


Question: Please compare nauplii production from wild spawners to production from domesticated spawners from Moana?


Sayed Alum: My experience with wild spawners is that they come from the trawlers in very bad condition, and we experienced very high mortality.  The ones that do spawn have a very high hatch rate, but survival of larvae is lower than the SPF animals from Moana.  Wild broodstock are smaller than the Moana animals, so the trawlers must be harvesting them before they have had much time to reproduce.


Question: What is the most important thing you learned from the Moana training team?


Sayed Alum: To be patient and spend a lot of time observing the broodstock.  I learned that feeding needs to be adjusted based on when the broodstock are hungry.  I learned that tanks need to be cleaned and water needs to be changed every day and that temperature control is very important.  I also learned how to select broodstock that are ready to spawn.


Question: Would you recommend that other hatcheries in Bangladesh try using Moana broodstock?


Sayed Alum: Yes, if they are willing to learn and maintain biosecurity.  Prevention of disease is the most important part of working with SPF animals and they can become infected in the hatchery if you are not careful.  You have to be patient because it takes time to acquire the skills needed raise broodstock and to control the conditions that will enable them to mate naturally and produce the large quantities of nauplii needed for commercial production.



Poritosh Barua


Poritosh Barua is the lead technician for larval rearing.  His daily responsibilities include the preparation of larval rearing tanks for stocking.  He receives newly hatched larvae (nauplii) from the maturation section, counts them and stocks them in larval tanks.  His responsibilities include maintaining water quality through daily water exchanges, feeding of larvae, daily estimation of larval counts, monitoring of larval development stages, microscopic examination of health status and recording of observations.


Question: How long have you been working in shrimp hatcheries?


Poritosh Barua: I have been a larval rearing technician for 19 years.


Question: Have you noticed any difference in working with larvae from wild broodstock and larvae from domesticated broodstock?


Poritosh Barua: Artificial insemination provided weak larvae that did not survive well during the zoea stage.  When we changed to natural mating the quality of the nauplii was more like the nauplii we got from wild broodstock.  The Moana larvae grow faster in the hatchery than the larvae we get from wild broodstock.  Moana will give us more consistent production.


Question: How did the training you received from the Moana technical team help you make the transition to working with domesticated shrimp larvae easier?


Poritosh Barua: The training was very systematic and organized, there were sheets for feeding and water exchange and daily examination of larvae under the microscope provided a better picture of overall animal health and survival.


Question: Please compare production with Skeletonema versus production with Thalassiosira?


Poritosh Barua: Thalassiosira is much more stable in outdoor culture, and because it comes from pure cultures it is not contaminated with bacteria and protozoans.  Survival is much higher with Thalassiosira, and I like to use it throughout the culture period because I believe it contributes to improved water quality.


Question: What was the most important thing that you learned from the training team?


Poritosh Barua: I learned how to produce larvae without using antibiotics and that water exchange is very important for increasing larval survival.



Ahbib Talib


Ahbib Talib is one of the newest employees at MKA.  She was hired to do algae production.  Her responsibilities include maintaining pure cultures of two strains of algae, Chaetoceros species and Thalassiosira species.  She is learning to expand indoor algae for outdoor production, monitoring of algal counts and keeping of algae production records.


Question: What is your work experience?


Ahbib Talib: This is my first job.


Question: It is unusual for women to work in hatcheries in Bangladesh.  How do you like the work?


Ahbib Talib: I like the work very much.  It is difficult for women to find work in Cox’s Bazar.  I am very grateful for the opportunity.


Question: What did you learn from the Moana Technical Team that you would not have been able to learn if you did not receive training?


Ahbib Talib: I learned everything about how to culture algae.  How to use the autoclave, how to use the microscope to count algae, how to prepare media and how to make sterile transfers.  I had no knowledge of algae culture before I took this job, and I learned that it is very important to work in a very clean and precise way.  I also learned from Kenny that women work in hatcheries in most other countries and that if I work hard and learn these skills that there may be other opportunities as the hatchery business changes and more women are accepted as hatchery technicians.


Information: Goutam Bhattacharjee, MKA Hatchery, Sonarpara, Hatchery Zone, Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (phone +880-1783-895350).


Source: AgTechXchange.   Interview with Management and Trainees at MKA Hatchery.   September 9, 2015.

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