It is harvesting time for aquaculture farmers doing raft cultures of green mussels in the Valiyaparamba backwaters, and they are happy that the yield this year is better than that of last two or three years.
The backwaters divide the Valiyaparamba strip and small islands and mainland, in Kannur and Kasaragod districts including Thrikkarippur and Padanna.
Farmers and their helpers start mussel harvest in April-May, by removing the mussel ropes suspended from rafts anchored to the backwaters.
They collect the mussel ropes, bring them to land in canoes, and segregate good mussels (with closed shells) and bad mussels (with open shells) before they are handed over to buyers who sell them to local vendors or those in neighbouring places.
“There are 1,949 green mussel cultivation units in the backwaters with each unit having 100 ropes,” said I.P. Athira, mussel culture district project coordinator under the Fisheries Department in the district.
They included 1,192 units under the Blue Revolution (BR) scheme for new farmers, and 757 units under the Janakeeya Matsyakrishi continuing scheme for existing mussel farmers.
Whereas individuals under the BR scheme could culture one unit each with a government subsidy of 40% of the cost (estimated at ₹15,000), self-help groups could cultivate up to four units with the same subsidy, she said.
Continuing farmers would get 20% of the operations cost, she added.
While the harvest is still incomplete, initial yields show increased production.
Twelve tonnes of mussels was harvested in Padanna panchayat and eight tonnes was harvested in Thrikkarippur panchayat.
Valiyaparamba panchayat, having the highest number of mussel farmers, has so far harvested 10 tonnes, according to the Fisheries Department.
The season of mussel culture starts in November when salinity is high in the backwaters.
“Yield this year is good and we are fetching ₹6,000-7,000 per sack containing 75-80 kg of mussels,” said P.V. Preetha, mussel culture farmer and promoter, who is tasked with recruiting more people into mussel farming.
Seeds were locally available this season, though some farmers had bought outside seeds which reached harvest stage early, she said.
There was no difficulty in marketing the product, she added.