Indonesian shrimp-producing province hit hard by coronavirus

Published on
March 2, 2020

The spread of the COVID-19 virus, commonly referred to as coronavirus, has heavily impacted a key shrimp-producing province in Indonesia, resulting in a sharp decline of exports to China, Mongabay reported 25 February.

In early February, the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said would restrict imports of live fisheries products from China as part of the country’s efforts to minimize the transmission of the virus.

The restrictions in trade with China, the major destination for shrimp from Indonesia, have come as a blow for the shrimp industry in Jambi, a province located on Sumatra Island.

The province’s shrimp export value fell 95.7 percent to just IDR 1 billion (USD 69,800, EUR 63,300) in February, from IDR 23 billion (USD 1.61 million, EUR 1.46 million) in December last year before the COVID-19 outbreak, according to local media, using data from the local government.

“We’re struggling here because of corona,” Agus, a local shrimp harvester, said. “We’re just sitting around waiting now. What can we do if we can’t sell mantis shrimp?”

Indra Gunawan, a worker at a shrimp warehouse in Jambi, said the owner of the facility has not been able to ship any cargo since 25 January.

“We don’t ship anymore – completely stopped,” he said, adding that the trader is suffering from heavy losses.

Gunawan added that the domestic market is too small to consume the shrimp output produced in Jambi and traders have collaborated to export more to Japan.

In mid-February, fishermen in Jambi held a demonstration to ask for assistance from the government. They said they were willing to the cost of shifting from shrimp harvesting was prohibitively high.

On 2 March, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo the country had experienced its first two positive cases of COVID-19, Jakarta Post reported.  

Photo courtesy of Norjipin Saidi/Shutterstock

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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