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How Did Rice Farmers Cultivate Crawfish in Louisiana?

About 90% of crawfish production in America is being done in Louisiana. This is where they bred and farmed crawfish in a rotation cycle with rice crops. But how did the rice farmers cultivate crawfish in Louisiana in the first place?

Rice farmers in Louisiana realized they could breed crawfish on their farms all year round without affecting their rice crops. This led the crawfish industry to grow after these Louisiana farmers began breeding which also improved their income.

When Did Breeding Crawfish in Rice Farms in Louisiana Start?

The concept of combining farming crawfish and rice crops started in the 1950s. It was developed into formal research during the 1960s, initiated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. They soon started raising crawfish in small ponds.

It did not take long since the research began that the rice farmers of Louisiana started to grow crawfish in their rice fields after they found out they could do it without any harmful impact on their rice crops, and they could even do it throughout the year.

This kind of aquaculture covered 44,000 acres of land dedicated for this cultivated farming in the midst of the 1970s and became more extensive over time. As of 2016, it had reached 144,000 acres which is over three times the land field where it started. (Source: Aquaculture North America)

What are Crawfishes?

Crawfishes are small crustaceans that crawl in swamps, lakes, rivers, or ponds. They live in freshwater, and they taste closely similar to lobster or shrimp. Since crawfish is famous in America, 95% of its consumption was produced in Louisiana’s rice fields.

Crawfish is primarily produced in Louisiana in conjunction with their rice production. They are easy to breed and may live in various agricultural lands. They are raised in a rotational cycle on rice farms yearly.

Some crawfish live in freshwater, streams, brooks, paddy fields, and swamps. Some of them even survive in dirty water. (Source: The Spruce Eats)

Crawfish may have similarities to lobsters, they have pincers, and they are colored red, brown, and gray. Besides needing to live in a fresh, clean water habitat, they also need to feed to live. Crawfish eat plants, decomposing animals, or living and detritus. They also eat algae and even worms, just like they eat regular fish food. Vegetables, shrimp pellets, and small fish that their claws may capture are food for crawfish. (Source: What Do Animals Eat)

How Did Breeding Crawfish in Rice Farms Help the Economy of Louisiana?

The implementation of raising crawfish on rice field farms in Louisiana continuously boosted their state’s economic growth.

In fact, from 70 million pounds of crawfishing in 1997, the state generated $41 million while gaining $28 million in 47 million pounds coming from rice farms. These figures grew uninterrupted over time, with crawfish profits of $168.5 million from 110.9 million pounds in 2012. In a report in 2014, 108.5 million pounds of crawfish were produced with gains of $172 million.

Louisiana’s local farmers today are earning extra revenue because of the crawfish industry selling them in local docks, commercial fisherman counterparts, and stores. With today’s technology, crawfish are also being sold in online stores like Cajun Grocer, where they can purchase fresh and boiled crawfish across all states in America.

The demand for crawfish is usually higher during Lent and Mardi Gras. (Source: Agriculture North America)

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