Tension over shrimp prices escalates


Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
June 28, 2009

Thai shrimp farmers are ramping up their campaign against slumping shrimp prices, threatening road blockades in southern Thailand for a second time unless the Thai government steps up.

In March, 500 shrimp farmers blocked main roads. But the demonstration ended when the government agreed to purchase up to 10,000 metric tons of vannamei shrimp over the next three months.

Now farmers are demanding a price-intervention scheme to shore up prices and threatening to renew protests unless the government develops a long-term plan to address declining prices.

Kanchit Hemarak, who represents shrimp farmers in eight southern provinces, said something has to be done quickly or farmers will take action again.

This view was echoed by Ekapoj Yodpinit, president of the Surat Hani Shrimp Farmers Club, who is urging the government to come to a decision quickly before prices fall even further. “There are more than 200 containers of shrimp entering the market each day, far higher than the capacity of cold storage facilities,” he said. “This affects prices significantly.”

The government has proposed offering interest-free loans and allocated THB 1.4 billion (USD 4.1 million, EUR 2.9 million) for cold-storage operators and exporters to buy shrimp at a set price, and then wait until the price rises again. The government said this is less risky than a price-intervention scheme.

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