Hairy crabs, rice do well together

Farmer Wang Ninghong, 49, has been busy harvesting rice and hairy crabs on his 12,000 square meters of rented land in Ludu Village in the Jiading Industrial Zone.

Farmer Wang Ninghong, 49, has been busy harvesting rice and hairy crabs on his 12,000 square meters of rented land in Ludu Village in the Jiading Industrial Zone.

It’s the first time that someone in the district has raised crabs and rice from the same piece of land.

Wang, an aquatic products vendor, decided to branch out into raising crabs at the beginning of last year.

He obtained aquatic plants from Yangcheng Lake, which is famous for the quality of its hairy crabs, a local delicacy enjoyed during October and November when the crabs are mature.

The delectable taste of the rich, creamy crab roe and paste as well as the sweet, tender crab meat proves irresistible for many people and the production of hairy crabs is a billion-dollar business these days.

Crabs reared in the freshwater lake northeast of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province are reputed to be the best in China. Because of their supreme quality, crabs farmed and harvested in the region can be expensive.

“Comparing to local water plants, the aquatic plants from Yangcheng Lake are more tender and nutritious. They are the favorite food of the crabs and also an organic fertilizer for rice,” Wang said.

After planting the aquatic plants, Wang decided to raise crayfish — in Chinese known as xiaolongxia — as a test.

Wang went to Huating Town and learned the skills of raising crayfish from farmers who had raised the crustaceans on land where they also grew rice.

The crayfish reared by Wang and his wife did well and, by May, some had grown to as heavy as 200 grams. They proved very popular with customers and soon demand exceeded supply. Wang managed to sell almost a ton of them.

In June, Wang planted rice seedlings. “The aquatic plants grow wildly so it’s more difficult to clean the rice field. Thus we planted rice later than others,” said Wang. However, the aquatic plants served as organic fertilizer and the rice grew much better than that planted by others.

“My daughter got married in October, and the big crabs have been caught for guests to enjoy,” Wang said. “Still the big ones in the field weigh at least 250 grams.”

After his experience this year, Wang has decided to continue planting rice and raising crabs together next year.


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