KOCHI: Farming of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), using innovative methods, is gaining popularity among fish farmers in the state.
According to the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), around 800 tonnes of GIFT was produced in Kerala in the current fiscal. During the period, around 16 lakh fingerlings were supplied to farmers in the state by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture, Vijayawada.
“A large number of farmers have taken up the new farming model, and succeeded. There is a sharp increase in the demand for GIFT seeds. The number of seeds distributed among farmers increased to 16 lakh in 2016-17 from 22,000 in 2013-14. The demand is expected to reach 50 lakh in the next fiscal,” said MPEDA-Kochi deputy director M Shaji.
The GIFT variety of the fish was developed using the strains of Nile tilapia, which is suitable for small and commercial culture. It has become one of the most sought-after aquaculture fish in the Ernakulam district, especially at Cherai, Kothamangalam and Aluva. According to Shaji, farmers in the region are adopting innovative methods such as aquaponics and re-circulating aquaculture system. Their success has resulted in demand for seeds increasing further.
“This variety is disease-resistant, which makes the cultivation risk-free and profitable. A large number of conventional fish farmers are shifting to the new method of cultivation,” he said. A major advantage of GIFT farming is uniform growth/high survival rate and tolerance to temperature fluctuations. Besides, the fish attains full growth in five to six months and the cost of farming is low.
Faisal P A, a farmer at Aluva, said cultivation of GIFT is highly profitable. “The fish attains the weight of one kg in six months, and fetches me around 250 per kg. There is high demand and people visit my farm from distant places,” he said.
From April 2017 onwards, farmers will be able to collect fingerlings from the Kochi centre of the MPEDA. For more details, contact 0484-2333001.