Bangladesh government grants permission for vannamei pilot farms

The Bangladeshi government has decided to allow two pilot projects to farm vannamei in the country, following several requests from local companies for more than a decade, the New Age reported on 30 January.

One project will be undertaken by the non-governmental organization Shushilan in Khulna, and the other by Agri Business Enterprise in Chattogram. The two will be under the supervision of the Department of Fisheries and the Bangladesh Fish Research Institute.

Bangladesh’s shrimp exporters have long been asking the government to allow the farming of vannamei in the country to help boost competitiveness. The government, however, was reluctant to make the decision, because green activists claimed that the culture of the species would be harmful for biosecurity.

The Department of Fisheries Additional Director General Md Ramzan Ali told the daily the pilot projects will be implemented for one year. Commercial production would be allowed across the country if the pilot projects prove successful.

“Hopefully, the piloting will be successful as we will give our full efforts to the projects so that the country can gain more production of shrimps,” Ramzan said.

Former president of the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA) Kazi Belayet Hossain said it would take three to four years to go for commercial production of the variety after the pilots.

Another former president of BFFEA, Md Golam Mostafa, said farming of black tiger shrimp, which Bangladesh shrimp sector has focused on, has become less competitive due to high production cost. Meanwhile, the production of vannamei is 20 times higher than that of black tiger shrimp and vannamei now accounts for around 80 percent of shrimp exports in the world, higher than just 10 percent of black tiger shrimp.

Bangladesh has lost its traditional markets in the United States and the European Union as its costly black tiger shrimp has failed to compete against much cheaper but high-yielding hybrid vannamei from Thailand and other countries, according to the Daily Industry.

Bangladesh's shrimp exports have declined over the years. During July-December of this 2019-2020 fiscal year, Bangladesh exported shrimp worth USD 215 million (EUR 193.7 million), down 3.6 percent from USD 223 million (EUR 201 million) in the previous period.

The country exported 29,500 metric tons (MT) of shrimp worth USD 361 million (EUR 325.3 million) in 2018-2019, much lower than the production of 41,200 MT and value of USD 545 million (EUR 491 million) in 2013-2014.  

Photo courtesy of Mati Nitibhon/Shutterstock 


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