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Shrimp exports from Khulna region has fallen drastically this year due to various reasons, putting the southwest economy at risk.
According to Khulna Fish Inspection and Quality Control (FIQC) office, 24,104 tonnes of Bagda and Galda shrimp worth $30,71,27,717 were exported from the region in FY2021-22.
Meanwhile, the income decreased by $8,78,33,102 in FY2022-23 as 19,904 tonnes of shrimp worth $21,92,94,615 were exported.
Experts stress increasing Vannamei shrimp farming due to their growing popularity in the global market to increase export.
Shrimp production is one of the main sources of income for the people of in the region. In addition to the decrease in the quality of shrimp due to the global recession, unchecked adulteration and consecutive natural disasters, exports have decreased significantly in recent years industry insiders said.
Shrimp farmers of the region are in dire straits due to various reasons such as the death of stocks, natural calamities, price hike in shrimp fry and fish feed and shrimp price fall. Production has decreased due to these reasons as well.
According to the regional Department of Fisheries, about 90 per cent of the shrimp produced in this region are exported to 32 countries of the world.
In FY2022-23, shrimp export income from this region was about $220 million, which is about $99 million less than the previous financial year.
According to Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA), shrimp exports have been declining continuously for seven years.
In FY2015-16, 40,702 tonnes of frozen shrimp were exported from the country. In FY2016-17 it decreased to 39,706 tonnes. The decline continued at 36,168 tonnes in FY2017-18, 33,306 tonnes in FY2018-19, 30,036 tonnes in FY2019-20, and 30,571 tonnes in FY2021-22.
The average export rate has declined by about 10 per cent over the past few years. Traders fear if the situation prevails, shrimp exports may hit rock bottom.
According to local fisheries officials and exporters, the reason for the decrease in exports is the decrease in the price of shrimp in the foreign market, lagging behind in competition, the loss of reputation due to shrimp adulteration, and the increase in production costs, resulting in a decrease in profits.
Furthermore, the number of fish enclosures is decreasing due to the lack of accessible salt water. Farmers are suffering losses due to continued virus infection. Shrimp farmers are also losing interest as they are deprived of credit facilities.
In addition to this, Vannamei shrimp (Pacific white-legged shrimp) is becoming popular in the European-American market, leading to decreased interest in the country’s shrimp.
According to shrimp farmers, with increased prices of fries, feed, labour, and transport costs they are unable to make a profit after covering production costs. Rather, many farmers have faced continuous losses in the last few years.
Director of BFFEA MA Hasan Panna said, “We have to stand by the shrimp farmers and provide financial aid if needed. The shrimp farming industry is a significant part of the southern economy.”
Regarding shrimp production and export, District Fisheries Officer Joydeb Paul said, salt water is prevented from entering by building embankments in many areas of the coastal districts to protect crops.
“This, however, is hampering shrimp cultivation. Exports have reached an all-time low for the industry. It is now high time to take coordinated action by all sectors including the Water Development Board, Fisheries Department and the local administrations regarding shrimp farming,” he said.
He also said that farmers are being trained in modern shrimp cultivation methods by the fisheries department to decrease production costs and boost output.
Meanwhile, the expansion of shrimp farming in the cluster system is being done by organising southern regional farmers through the Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries Project.
The project’s Deputy Project Director Saroj Kumar Mistry said, 300 clusters of fish farmers have been included in this project.
“Each cluster consists of 25 enclosures, ranging in size from 33 to 150 decimals. This will be an effective way to increase shrimp production in coastal areas. Already 146 cluster farmers have been given a non-refundable financial grant of Tk 1,81,000 per acre (100 decimals).
Vannamei Shrimp Farming in Bangladesh
According to related sources, there is a lack of government support for shrimp farming in Vannamei in the country. Although the farmers are interested in farming this variety, it is not
allowed to be widely cultivated as it is a foreign breed.
In 2018, the government allowed experimental Vannamei cultivation.
In the first phase of the pilot project at the desalination centre of Paikgasa upazila 4,100 kg of shrimp per acre was produced. In the second phase, 4,445 kg was produced.
On March 29 this year, three companies were given permission to cultivate in Vannamei on a commercial basis. Among them, there are two institutions in Batiaghata and one in Koyra. However, it is not allowed to build hatcheries for its fries. And its feed also has to be imported.
About the commercial cultivation of Vannamei shrimp, Vice President of BFFEA Md Abdul Baki said, “Due to the low price, there is a high demand for Vannamei shrimp in the international market. We are losing the global market due to not farming this variety.”
He added that hatcheries should be built to produce Vannamei fry, allowing the overall shrimp production including food processing to be done in the country.
FIQC Khulna’s Deputy Director Md Abu Sayeed said that exports have mainly decreased due to low demand in European countries.
“Our efforts to increase exports to international markets are continuous. We are working to expand the market and to increase the enthusiasm of exporters to participate more in seafood fairs held in different countries every year,” he added.
Acting Editor: Dr. Khondaker Showkat Hossain
Publisher: Tapash Mazumder
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