INDIA : Web site for aqua farmers launched

by Mohammed Shafeeq, India Abroad News Service

Hyderabad, Feb 7 - In what is probably the first ever attempt to integrate shrimp farmers in remote coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh with the national and international markets, a Telugu Web site -- -- was launched on Wednesday by Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

Naidu launched the Web site, developed by leading cigarette manufacturer ITC, through videoconference. A large number of aqua farmers sitting in Bhimavaram town of West Godavari district watched the launch. The Web site will provide aqua farmers of Andhra with the latest technological and scientific knowhow and tell them the prices prevailing in major shrimp markets all over the world. ITC chairman Yogi Deveshwar expressed hope that the effort would improve the productivity of aquaculture and make Indian farmers internationally competitive.

He urged the aqua farmers to be in constant touch with the managers of ITC's International Business Division (IBD) so that they can gain maximum benefit. Earlier, the ITC had launched a similar initiative for the soyabean farmers in Madhya Pradesh and coffee planters in Karnataka. Deveshwar said that the ITC was looking forward to a number of other initiatives including afforestation projects, which will give employment to thousand of farmers in rural India.

Under this technological initiative ITC will set up aqua kiosks or "aquachoupals" in villages around Bhimavaram and later in all parts of the state and other states where aquaculture is popular.

Apart from providing information, aquachoupals will also facilitate the supply of high-quality inputs for aqua farms and enable farmers to sell shrimps from their homes. The IBD is currently exporting shrimps worth Rs. 1.25 billion every year.

While lauding ITC's initiative, Naidu said that with latest information about all the aspects of aqua farming becoming directly accessible to the farmers in remote villages, they would be able to take timely and correct decisions to increase productivity and face international competition.

"So far you were sitting in the village squares and chatting. Now you can chat on and get latest information about diseases affecting prawn culture and treatment," he told the farmers. He asked ITC to adopt some of the coastal villages and train the farmers in aqua farming for improving the productivity.

--India Abroad News Service