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Soft Shell Crab Cultivation Challenges

Soft Shell Crab Cultivation
Farmers are not interested in soft shell crab cultivation in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.
The reasons are price dropping and limited size for exports due to new regulation set by the local maritime authorities.

Soft shell crab are the name for mangrove crabs. Their entire body is soft due to the replacement of shells, claws, and feet.

Currently only left 3 soft shell crab farmers in Balipapan compared 8 before.

“Many left soft shell crab cultivation industry.” said Syamsudin. He is one of the soft shell crab farmers who survived in Teritip Village, Balikpapan Timur.

Syamsudin only cultivated 1 ton of soft shell crab monthly compared 3-4 tons a month before.

Hong Kong and China, like soft shell crabs with sizes below 120 grams.

According Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Circular Letter Number 18 of 2015. Catching lobster, crab, and blue crabs must meet the standard weight size of at least 150 grams and above. Those below 150g grams are not allowed to export outside Indonesia.

Reasons of soft shell crab cultivation drop.

Soft shell crab farming has narrowed. Syamsudin is fortunate enough to harvest 200 to 300 kilograms of soft crab per month.

Foreign markets are not interested in the size of 150 grams and above.

They like the small one, 80-120 grams. Due to supply more than demand. The price drop and affected the soft shell crab farmers.

soft crab pond

Challenges faced by local crab farmers.

Farmers who are unable to survive will switch to other businesses. They stuck in high rent cost and forced to go out of business.

Tarman is now opening a dug well whose water is flowing into neighboring houses. Yadi, another farmer, also switched professions. He rented a small kiosk on the edge of town and sold birds at the kiosk. “He brought in birds from Java and sold them there.

Syamsuddin claimed to have survived the soft crab business despite a tough situation. Now he only have one worker working for him compare to 3 workers before.

His business was successful with the production of 200 kilograms of crab every day. Now production continues to shrink to 300 kg per month due to price reduced.

The price of soft shell crabs, which last year was Rp. 120,000-Rp. 130,000 per kilogram, a few months now dropped to Rp. 65,000 per kilogram.

However, Syamsudin will continue to survive the business he initiated since 2006. Now he has owned the farm.

After all, he said, three of the four children were independent. Family expenses are not as big as before.

“The farmers who rent the land suffered the most. Because the rental is very high” Syamsudin said.

Indonesia Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Agency

Balikpapan Head of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Agency M Yosmianto acknowledged that the inconvenience of the soft shell crab business in the period of adjustment since the enactment of Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Regulation No. 1/2015. He said, the current pond production is large soft shell crab, different from  market expectations that want below 120 grams.

According to Yosmianto, the enactment of the regulation actually triggered the smuggling of crabs via land. “We only succeeded in preventing inter-island interference. But the land is difficult,” he said.

Soft Shell Crab Cultivation Challenges
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Soft Shell Crab Cultivation Challenges
Soft shell crab cultivation is no longer attractive to farmers in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The drop of selling price and the limitation of the size of the crabs set by the government makes the soft shell crab cultivators begin to switch to other businesses.
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