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September 29, 2014
Want Can I Grow in the Winter?
Khosrow Aein Jamshid (firstname.lastname@example.org): Around the world, thousands of hectares of shrimp farms lie dormant in the winter. In southern Iran, water temperatures decline to about 10°C from December to February, temperatures much too low for Penaeus vannamei farming. I’m looking for something that I could grow in my ponds for three or four months when the water temperatures ranges from 10°C to 20°C. The salinity range here is about 40 to 30 parts per thousand (ppt). Any suggestions?
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com): Sea cucumbers!
Nestor Deatras (firstname.lastname@example.org): You could grow grey mullet from November to March. Based on my experience in Chabaha, the southern most city in Iran (Sistan and Baluchestan Province) and in Pakistan, grey mullet can tolerate temperatures down to 10°C and salinity above 50 ppt without too much water exchange. Grey mullet will also clean up the sludge and detritus in your ponds, making pond preparation easier for your next shrimp crop. In the summer and fall, you could collect mullet fingerlings from the outlet gates of your shrimp ponds, where they swim against the water current to feed on plankton from your ponds. Stock them in a pond and then distributed them to all your ponds after the shrimp harvest.
Jerome Heng (email@example.com): You could try kuruma shrimp (Penaeus japonicus). Your temperature and salinities are suitable.
Daniel Gruenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org): Jerome, kuruma will not grow at 10°C. It won’t die, but it won’t grow, either. In growth trials in Turkey it was shown to have an average daily growth of 0.04 grams a day at 22°C to 30°C. In addition, its feed conversion ratio is high at 3.5+.
In Japan the production of kuruma shrimp has been on a long downward spiral.
On the other hand, sea cucumbers, which require a big investment in hatchery and nursery systems, can be stocked in the shrimp ponds after the fall shrimp harvest. They don’t need feed or aeration, and they will clean the pond bottom for the next shrimp crop.
Since most farmers in Iran control about 10 ponds each, I estimate that each farmer should be able to add $100,000 to $200,000 income per season with sea cucumbers from 10 ponds. As far as I have seen, no other alternative even comes close to this.
Jerome Heng (email@example.com): Hi Daniel, when I was in northeast China a few months ago, the info I got from friends and local farmers was that the species of sea cucumber (Stichopus japonicus) that they were growing was in very bad shape. Nine out of ten hatcheries were closed because of a dramatic drop in price, and many farmers were in deep debt.
Daniel Gruenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org): Stichopus japonicus is a very expensive niche species. In China, many high-value species are crashing due to corporate accounting rules and rules on government spending for food and entertainment.
J.M. Wigglesworth (email@example.com): Shouldn’t we being growing what we can sell, rather than selling what we can grow?
Daniel Gruenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org): I am not sure I follow your logic, but special high value S. japonicus has limited demand, but other, cheaper species are still in high demand and can be grown at a profit.
J.M. Wigglesworth (email@example.com): Figures.
Prakesh Srinivasen (firstname.lastname@example.org): Where is the “l like this” button?
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com): You like his figure?
Holothuria scabra is the sea cucumber species that I’m suggesting for Iran; it’s about 1/5th the price of Stichopus japonicus.
J.M. Wigglesworth (firstname.lastname@example.org): No. You are quite wrong. My amusement is with your logic: “Many high value species are crashing due to corporate accounting rules and rules on government spending for food and entertainment.” We are in a commodity business. We sell what people want to buy. It’s economics 101.
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com): Commodities are subject to supply and demand. The demand for high-value sea cucumbers in China was artificially propped up by government spending. Now that artificial demand has been taken away and markets are reacting by a shift in demand from high-value to lower-value species.
Greg Lutz (firstname.lastname@example.org): Sounds like you had the same professor for both economics and genetics.
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com): The original post was referring to a question of what the idle shrimp ponds in the Persian Gulf area can do during their fallow periods.
It is certainly technically feasible to grow sea cucumbers in southern Iran. Saudi Arabia is harvesting crops of H. scabra from their ponds right now.
There were some comments alleging the market in China is “crashing.” However, the only sea cucumber market in China that is crashing is for Stichopus japonicus. China has problems with pollution, rampant use of antibiotics and poor quality product. Buyers have shunned China-produced S. japonicus, but Japan sourced product continues to fetch high prices. In any case, S. japonicus sells in a niche market for wealthy consumers, while H. scabra sells in a mainstream commodity market. The two markets are distinct and separate.
For H. scabra, which I am recommending to the original poster from Bushehr Province in Iran, prices and demand have remained constant despite all the problems they are having with China grown S. japonicus.
In conclusion, there is no issue with the market for H. scabra, and I still feel it is an excellent species to grow for this application. You would need to build a hatchery, and dedicate some pond space for nursing 5-gram juveniles to approximately 75 grams during the warm season and then stock the 75-gram animals after the last harvest of shrimp. In April, before stocking your shrimp ponds, you should be able to harvest 200-gram sea cucumbers.
Conservatively, you should expect a harvest of 2,500 kilograms of cucumbers per hectare. At the current global price for cucumbers at $10 per kilo, you would have an income of $25,000 per hectare. In Bushehr Province Iran, most farmers have ten, one-hectare ponds, so the $250,000 in income represents an excellent use of pond space over the winter.
Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers). Subjects: Aquaculture in Cold Season and Sea Cucumber Farming/Market. September 19–29, 2014.
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