Sea mussels farming
Sea mussels farming is favorite option in farming along the coastal provinces such as Ban Laem district, the province of Petchaburi. There are about 300 mussel farms accumulating the total coastal area of 5,000 rais (2,000 acres).
Aram Hongtong, a Ban Laem villager, has a 18-rais sea mussels farm. He has been managing this farm for 4 years. He is an ex-fisherman who decided to change his career because the fuel cost was too high and the fish was also scarce. Aram's mussels farming method has been developed from traditional way, and the mussel farming is twice a year.
Method of sea mussels farming : Bamboo sticks are pitched in the sea and left there for 3 months in order to let baby-mussels cling. Having got desired amount of baby-mussels, the mussels are separated and placed on the average to more bamboo sticks. Then the nets are used to cover the sticks in order to prevent the mussels dropping off. It takes 7-8 months to get mussels that weigh 1 kg with 20 mussels. It is sold at 4 Baht per kg. The cleaned mussels cost 5-6 Baht per kg. The annual income is around 150,000 baht, which is considerable better than fishery because the income is certain, the market has consistent demand on mussels and the mussels' price is not controversial.
Farming procedure : Bamboo stems are cut in 2.50 m, 3.50 m, and 4.50 m long. The bamboo source is in Kanchanaburi. Bamboo dealer sells them at 1 Baht per 1 m. Ropes and nets are also needed.
A set of net, weighs 3.8 kg, costs 195 Baht. The net was then cut in small pieces, 1 m wide. This amount of net can be used for covering 500 bamboo sticks for mussels farming.
The first step is to pitch the bamboo stems into the sea and this step takes 3-4 months. The bamboo sticks are pitched at 1 m deep, 30-50 cm in-row spacing, and 1.5 - 2 m spacing between the row. After having obtained adequate baby-mussels, they will be later separated to the prepared sticks in the appropriate amount on each stick.
When the schedule is met, the bamboo sticks are recovered. The numerous baby-mussels, clinging on the sticks, are separated into the net and then replaced, maybe in clusters, onto the prepared bamboo sticks with 5-6 inches spacing. Then, they are covered by a piece of net and re-pitched into the sea. This time it is not in a circle but in stack shape, tied on the top, with 1.50 m spacing. This size of spacing is suitable for food distribution for mussels, which make them grow quickly.
3-4 days after the stacked bamboo sticks were pitched. The covering net will be cut in order to loosen the space for mussels. The cramp environment causes mussels uncomfortable and they eventually died. At this stage, they mussels naturally grow. A great care is only to keep eyes on the thief. The other minor problems such as torn ropes or broken sticks can be easily solved.
Within 7-8 months, the mussels are grown and have a good size for sale i.e. 20 mussels per 1 kg. Mahachai market or Si moom muang market are regular customer with regular price. The demand is high, so there is no over-supply problem. So, the mussel farming is reasonably stable and good career with considerably high income.
Supachai Nilwanich : "Mussels farming", Daily Matichon, ( June 3rd, 2000), page 16.
Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa