By: Charlotte Pizarras
Workers at WTL Enterprises in Mansalay sort out newly harvested white shrimps ready for the market.
In a bid to pave the way to infuse innovation in the aquaculture industry in the MIMAROPA region, the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) assisted a local white through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).
Located in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, WTL Enterprise which is owned by a former OFW and visionary entrepreneur Wilfredo T. de Lara started off with rice milling and trading. Later on, seeing the potential of aquaculture, de Lara then ventured into bangus (milkfish) farming. Inspired by the world’s largest shrimp producer and agriculture and aquaculture conglomerate, Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corporation (CPFPC), de Lara converted its 10-hectare bangus farm to four earthen ponds for pacific white shrimp farming in 2017.
Pacific white shrimp, scientifically known as Litopenaeus vannamei, is among the world’s most widely cultivated shrimp due to its ease of cultivation and rapid growth rate. However, shrimps grown in earthen ponds or ponds constructed in soil are highly vulnerable to diseases which lead to increased mortality.
“Earthen ponds tend to have low pH, salinity, and temperature as well as low dissolved oxygen during unfavorable climatic conditions, and thus creating an unfriendly environment for the cultured shrimp,” said Jesse Pine, the DOST-Provincial Science and Technology director in Oriental Mindoro.
According to Pine, stressed shrimps are also more likely to grow in smaller sizes. He said that 30% of the enterprise’s produce before consisted of small-sized shrimps that subsequently command a lower price or value.
The earthen ponds currently being used by WTL also limits productivity to only two harvesting seasons a year since it requires at least two months of preparation before restocking.
Confronted by these problems and limitations, de Lara decided to seek the help of the DOST through SETUP last 2019 to acquire appropriate technologies to boost the productivity of his pacific white shrimp farm. Through the program, WTL was provided with 30 sets of Paddle Wheel Aerator and 25,480 square meters of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pond lining material.
Left and right photos show the current setup of ponds with the High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pond liner and paddle wheel aerators.
“The technologies ensure an optimal oxygen supply, healthy water quality, and clean pond bottom for maximized shrimp growth, better survival rates, and resistance to diseases,” said Pine.
The aerators and plastic pond liners prevent soil-water interaction, hence, eliminating issues of soil acidity, salinization, and uncontrolled seepage of water.
Pond cleaning and preparation also become more efficient, requiring only two weeks compared with the two-month normal earthen pond cleaning and drying process. This resulted in improved production efficiency through increased annual cycles and increased annual production volume of 40%.
The newly harvested white shrimps from WTL Enterprises’ farm were relatively bigger than the previous harvests without technological interventions.
“WTL now has three production seasons annually and the technologies have helped to lower the percentage of harvested small-sized shrimps from 30% to 15%. Most importantly, the survival rate increased from 75% to 90%,” said Pine.
At present, the enterprise can supply pacific white shrimp in the province all year round. It is also one of the main suppliers in Boracay and Malabon. Because it produces cleaner shrimps, it can now command better prices.
DOST-MIMAROPA hopes that other micro, small, and medium enterprises will jump on the bandwagon in the aquaculture industry and become more daring to use innovative technologies to be more competitive in the local and global markets.