Social cost‐benefit analysis of intensive versus traditional shrimp farming: A case study from India
This paper attempts a social cost‐benefit analysis of intensive versus traditional shrimp farming in West Bengal, India. Using primary data, the paper shows that although intensive shrimp farming yields high returns as compared to traditional shrimp farming, when the opportunity costs and environmental costs of shrimp farming, including disease risk, are accounted for, intensive shrimp farming loses its advantage. Sensitivity analysis shows that if the expected benefits were to fall short by 15% and costs rise by a similar proportion, intensive shrimp farmers would report higher losses than traditional shrimp farmers. Large traditional shrimp farmers continue to report positive net returns. These results are also most pronounced for small and marginal intensive shrimp farmers. Further, if the probability of disease risk is also accounted for, intensive shrimp farming reports significant losses whereas traditional shrimp farming in most cases shows positive net returns. In light of the high social costs and risks, this paper questions the rationale behind promoting intensive shrimp farming, especially among small and marginal holdings, as an income‐generating activity or poverty alleviation measure in the absence of an enabling environment. It suggests that policymakers need to factor in sustainability concerns and the local context when formulating policies to promote intensive shrimp farming.
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