Crab cultivation is gaining popularity among the smallholders in the Sundarbans as the demand of their crabs is on the rise in the country and abroad as well, reports UNB.
According to locals, about 290 species of crabs are found in about 400 rivers and canals in the Sundarbans. The forest dwellers collect crabs from these rivers and canals round the year except February, the breeding period of crabs.
But, they often catch small crabs from the rivers and canals, which cannot be sold. These small crabs have no demand in international market.
Local farmers said that's why they collect small crabs from the Sundarbans and take those into cages to rear for making those bigger.
"We find plenty of small crabs in the Sundarbans, but those are not sellable at all. If we want to catch big-size crabs from the forest, we have to spend huge time and must go to the deep forest which is risky," said Azmol Hossain, a crab farmer of Koyra in Khulna.
But, he said, it is very easy to collect small crabs from the forest and rear those in cages or small ponds to make them bigger and this cultivation is gaining popularity here.
Forest officer Md Saeed Ali said the Forest Department has taken steps to encourage forest dwellers to cultivate small crabs collected from the forest, reducing their dependence on the collection of adult crabs from the forest.
"Crab cultivation has improved the livelihood of local people," he added.
Official data reveals that forest dwellers collected around 8,708 quintal crabs from the Sundarbans West Zone in fiscal 2015-16.
Deputy director of Khulna Fisheries Department Prafullah Kumar Sarker said there is a huge potential of exporting crabs as live or frozen foods and this potential must be utilised by cultivating more crabs and exploring new crab markets abroad.
State minister for fisheries and livestock Narayan Chandra Chanda said considering the demand of crab, the government is planning to produce crab fry to expand its cultivation here.