Bangladesh reports drastic decline in shrimp production

A shrimp farm in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s seafood trade group is reporting a drastic decline in national shrimp production due to higher costs, drought, and disease.

Bangladesh’s main shrimp aquaculture region Khulna exported 19,900 metric tons (MT) of shrimp in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which ended in March. That was down from 24,100 MT the previous year, and down from the record of 39,706 MT in 2016-2017, Seafood Network Bangladesh reported.

“Many factors have contributed to the decrease in shrimp production in Khulna. This includes the decrease in brackish water sources, virus attacks, farmers’ unwillingness to adopt modern methods, and the inability to obtain disease-free fries,” it said.

Drought has also played a role in the decline. Unusually low rainfall and hotter-than-average temperatures have resulted in a spike in mortalities across the country’s shrimp farms, partially as a result of higher incidences of disease outbreaks.

“Having suffered losses, no shrimp farmer wants to engage in shrimp farming anymore,” a shrimp farmer in the Daulatpur area of Khulna told the network.

Bangladesh’s shrimp exports averaged above 30,000 MT between 2016 and 2020, according to the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association, but halfway through the current fiscal year, the country has produced just 13,592 MT of shrimp, according to the Bangladesh Department of Fisheries, which reported that 38,892 shrimp farms in the country collectively have seen their production rate decline to 300 to 400 kilograms per hectare, the lowest average rate of all major shrimp-producing nations globally.

Higher feed prices are also cutting into profit margins, and global demand is down, resulting in prices for Bangladeshi shrimp dropping by 24 percent in the current fiscal year, according to the Dhaka Tribune. And Ukraine and Russia, which were both major buyers of Bangladeshi shrimp, have cut back their purchasing as they fight a bitter, costly territorial war.

Bangladesh took in USD 300.3 million (EUR 278.6 million) from frozen shrimp exports in the last fiscal year and USD 407.3 million (EUR 377.9 million) in the year before that, a major portion of its total seafood exports, which reached USD 422.3 million (EUR 391.8 million) in 2022-2023 and USD 532.9 million (EUR 494.5 million) in 2021-2022.

Bangladesh’s government approved the expansion of a vannamei shrimp farming pilot project, initiated in 2021, but the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association has called for additional government help in expanding the sector’s capacity to create value-added products, which it said could increase the sector’s earnings by a multiple of five.

One bright spot in Bangladesh’s aquaculture sector is an increase in mud crab and eel exports. Locally called “cuchia,” the freshwater eels have found popularity in China, according to Bangladesh Crab Exporters’ Association Secretary Abul Kashem Gazi.

“We fulfill less than 10 percent of the demand for mud eels in China. A week’s supply can account for 8 tons of exports. An increase in mud eel production would generate significant foreign earnings for Bangladesh.,” Gazi said.

Bangladeshi crab farmers have also found more success recently with a pick-up in demand from Southeast Asia and China, ZF Trade International Owner Alam said.

“In Bangladesh, crabs can be grown in a long coastal belt, so the country has good potential,” he said. “China provides huge opportunities for selling crabs during winter.”

Photo courtesy of Global Seafood Alliance


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500