The pastures of the more livestock area of Manabí are replaced, little by little, by extensive shrimp areas in the Chone canton. In the last six years, at least 1 500 hectares that were paddocks were converted into pools for the cultivation and capture of crustaceans in this territory, in which the cattle were the star product.
But since 2012, the cattle ranch that for years dominated in this canton has been displaced by shrimp, which increasingly seduces the old ranchers of northern Manabi. In that year, the cattle area of Chone had a surface of cultivated grass of 25 599 hectares.
Of these, 5.8% has been replaced in these six years by shrimp ponds, according to the Association of Aquaculture Producers in the north of the province, which brings together 200 members. Last year, Manabí contributed more than 40,000 tons of shrimp for domestic production, which was 426,000 tons.
For the National Chamber of Aquaculture, in the rural area north of Manabí -including the cantons of Chone, Tosagua, San Vicente and Pedernales- there is an increase in shrimp activity linked to its proximity to rivers and ciénegas.
José Camposano, owner of this guild, says that the contribution of these areas diversifies the product since it is regularly obtained from pools with brackish water. In the north of Manabi, on the other hand, there is shrimp cultivated in fresh water, which is also attractive for exports. Until a few years ago, only the canton Pedernales was considered one of the main producers in the province.
From there comes almost 10% of the national production, with 15 ha of shrimp ponds. Nicolás Moreira, president of the Association of Aquaculture Producers from the north of Manabi, says that the shrimp farms established their bases in the rural area, where there were always problems of drought, floods and livestock deaths. He estimates that 12 565 ha that were previously cattle ranches are now shrimp farms, both in Chone and in Tosagua, San Vicente and Pedernales.
The boom of shrimp has also affected the livestock population of the province. Of the 1 million cattle that were had in 2012, it was passed to 900 975 in 2017, according to data from Agrocalidad, which is managed by the Cattlemen’s Association on vaccination goals against foot-and-mouth disease. In this union recognize that the business of cattle began to decline in 2012 by several factors such as: death of livestock by pests, entry of livestock from abroad at low cost, failure to review the price of the pound of meat and the liter of milk.
Edgardo Moreira, president of the Association in Chone, explains that these drawbacks have led the farmer to migrate from activity and, with it, the beginning of a substitution of the productive source. In its rendering of accounts of 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture informed that every year the livestock sector receives support from public banks, with credits that allow them to solve the problems. In 2016, BanEcuador and the National Financial Corporation delivered USD 12 463 697 in loans to the livestock sector, while in 2017 the amount was USD 16 957 181
The new shrimp farmers see greater profitability in this business. For some, the initial investment returns in the first harvest, which usually takes 3 months from when the larvae start.
Henry Andrade and Luis Alcívar exchanged livestock for the crustacean breeding and cultivation five years ago, at the site of San Antonio. In the former paddock of 2 hectares raised two shrimp ponds, with an investment of USD 30 000. After the first laying of larvae waited three months, which finally obtained 130 quintals, which represented revenues of USD 45 000.
Andrade and Alcívar were partners in the cattle market for 15 years. But the death of a part of their cattle due to drought and lack of grass caused them to change their activity. They sold 120 heads of cattle and with that income mounted shrimp farms. Investors take advantage of the fertility of these territories to get better returns. In Chone, the average production per shrimp farm is 65 to 70 quintals. (I)