Philippines Aims to be Top Shrimp Producer

The Philippines' Department of Agriculture has expressed interest in being a top shrimp producer globally in five years.

The Department of Agriculture is positive that Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) No. 225, which allows the import of specific-pathogen-free Pacific white shrimp broodstock, will help increase production. FAO No. 225 is applicable under the scrutiny of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to make sure white shrimp imports are disease-free and of superior quality.

The Philippines currently produces 30,000 metric tons of white shrimp and 24,000 metric tons of black tiger shrimp, according to Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras. The country's shrimp industry is the second largest foreign exchange income for the country, bringing an average of $100 million annually.

Within a five-year period, Filipino shrimpers will slowly switch to white shrimp until they reach 100,000 metric tons of annual production.

Currently, 60 percent of the country's shrimp production is allocated for domestic consumption. The rest is exported to Canada, the United States, Japan, Korea and other countries.

Malcolm Sarmiento, director of the bureau, said that the Philippines, recognized as the only country worldwide that doesn't use antibiotics to ward off disease, has the potential to reap large market shares in developed countries with more sophisticated consumers who are concerned about residues in food.

However, encouraging its shrimp farmers not to use antibiotics caused the Philippines to drop to the world's No. 10 shrimp exporter in 2003, from No. 3 in 2001, when the Department of Agriculture prohibited white shrimp broodstock imports to avoid the spread of the Taura virus, which devastated shrimp farms in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap signed FAO No. 225 in January 2007. As a result, Sarmiento reports that the bureau has certified seven breeding and hatchery centers as well as 38 grow-out farms occupying a total area of 1,228 acres.


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