Chennai, May 10: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik evinced keen interest in developing aquafarming, which would co-exist with its rich mangrove forests along the state’s coast.
On a visit to the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), headquartered here, Naveen was particularly fascinated by the success story of the MSSRF, where aquafarming among mangroves had yielded excellent results at Machillipattinam in Andhra Pradesh and near Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu.
When V. Selvam, an expert on coastal systems research, said that with an annual investment of Rs 2 lakh per hectare, mangroves could be cultivated on enclosed bunds that would be fed with seawater.
The rich nutrients in the mangrove could then be used to grow fish in a couple of years and crab a little later.
“The villagers can earn up to Rs 30,000 annually from fish and Rs 80,000 from crabs for each hectare. Since mangroves will keep providing rich nutrients, the crabs will not leave the water and need any enclosures,” Selvam said.
“That is a substantial sum and we should try it out,” Naveen said.
He even quipped that the mangroves would be provided with natural protection during cyclones. The chief minister queried about growing seaweeds along the Odisha coast, but Selvam said it was not viable since the Indian variety did not yield big returns.
When Naveen pointed out that seaweeds gave good returns in Indonesia, Selvam said the particular variety had been imported from Phillipines and it was unlikely to survive along the Odisha coast.
The chief minister then interacted with villagers, who had assembled at the MSSRF’s regional centre at Jeypore in Odisha.
When MSSRF executive director Ajay Parida said their request for additional land, adjacent to the Jeypore centre, was pending even after two years, Naveen said the file would be cleared once he returned to Bhuhaneswar.
Naveen, who is a on a two day visit to Chennai, will share the dais with Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa on Friday on the occasion of the Odisha Day celebrations when the foundation would be laid for an Odisha Bhavan in Chennai.
The two chief ministers, who struck an instant rapport during their recent meets in Delhi in connection with the NCTC, are taking forward their newfound bonhomie.