Vypin: Nowadays netting a good catch of mud crabs is akin to striking gold. With the prices of mud crabs going through the roof, the fishers here in Ernakulam district are raking in the moolah with a rich haul of these crabs.
People always craved for freshwater crabs, though they were costlier, than sea crabs as the former scored highly on taste. There is great demand for mud crabs, which are known for high flesh content in their legs, in the foreign market.
A mud crab that weighs one kg comes with a price tag of Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,200. The rate will dip to Rs 1,500 if the mud crab weighs between 1kg and 800 grams. A 550-gram crab will fetch Rs 1,200 and a 350-gram crab Rs 700. Immature crabs, known as ‘water’ crabs, are less preferred and they don’t have many takers. These immature crabs are usually taken to farms for rearing or sold at a cheap rate in domestic markets.
The price of mud crabs will hit rock bottom if they don’t have legs, and moreover, the traders don’t deal in dead crabs. These huge live crabs are exported after their legs are tied to their bodies and packed in boxes punched with holes for air circulation. The mud crabs are mainly exported to Singapore and Malaysia.
Those who can’t afford to buy the expensive mud crabs, settle for the ‘kavakali’ variety of small crabs in the domestic market.
Initially the mud crabs were caught from rivers and lakes, but later as the demand for these crabs soar people started mud crab farming in shrimp farms (chemeen kettu) and this practice has been going on for many years. The mud crab farmers buy crab babies from traditional fishers to rear them in farms but sometimes virus attacks can be detrimental.