Bangladesh shrimp industry reeling from cyclone

By

Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
May 27, 2009

Cyclone Aila, which battered Bangladesh on Monday with 70-mph (113-kph) winds, is likely to have a more devastating effect on the country’s farmed shrimp industry than Cyclone Sidr did in November 2007.

The cyclone washed away almost all of the shrimp farms in southern Bangladesh. Bazlur Rahman of the Bagerhat Chamber of Commerce described the area as “still under water, so there is no hope for any shrimp there.” The storm hit as southern Bangladeshi shrimp farmers, who raise black tigers, were harvesting their ponds.

“Most of the farms located in coastal areas are damaged, and those in the Sada area are 70 percent affected,” said Azhar Hussein, former president of the Satkhira Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, about 10,000 farms are inoperable in the Shayamnagar region.

The cyclone is expected to take a heavy financial toll on both shrimp farmers and exporters, who ship a majority of their product to the United States and the European Union.

The cyclone could not have come at a worse time, as the Bangladesh grapples with global economic downturn.

The country’s farmers cultivate some 170,000 hectares (420,000 acres) of ponds for marine shrimp and 50,000 hectares (123,000 acres) for freshwater shrimp. Shrimp is the country’s second largest export commodity, valued at USD 537 million (EUR 384 million) last year.

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