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June 22, 2011


Thailand's shrimp production sees drop in second quarter



Losses suffered by Thai shrimp farmers due to recent floods and disease outbreaks have caused production to drop 15%, which is expected to be reflected in the results of the second quarter this year.


However, the fall may not affect the country's export value as other major exporting countries are expected to face problems as well.


Thailand's production usually enters the market in the second quarter of each year. Unfortunately the South, the main shrimp production area, was hit hardest by the floods.


In addition, shrimp farms in the East, the second-biggest region for shrimp farming, have been hit by white and red-spot disease since March. Moreover, unusually cool temperatures in April affected the shrimp growth ratio, resulting in production in the region dropping 30%. These factors are creating low supply to both domestic and international markets despite high demand.


In the South alone, widespread floods damaged about 1,000 shrimp ponds, causing losses of THB800 million-THB1 billion (US$26-US$320 million). In addition, the floods directly affected the water quality of shrimp farms, while cool temperatures also reduced the growth ratio.


Major shrimp exporting countries such as Mexico have predicted low production due to the BP oil spill. As a result, shrimp prices will continue to rise through this year.


Ekapoj Yodpinij, president of Surat Thani Shrimp Club, said that farmers in the South will continue to face water quality issues due to heavy rainfall that is hampering shrimp moulting.


Damaged farms in the South will take at least two months to resume feeding as their equipment has been submerged.


"Shrimp farms in the South are like houses burned down by fires. It will affect the country's total shrimp production in the second quarter this year, when normally we face an oversupply problem," said Ekapoj.


But shrimp prices have a bright future, with 30 large shrimp weighing one kilogramme quoted at THB230 (US$7.5) in markets and 50 smaller shrimp traded at THB150 (US$4.3), he said.


Ekapoj said the government should take urgent action to help shrimp farms recover by providing more soft loans to allow farmers to feed the new crop as fast as possible.


Suraphol Pratuangtum, a shrimp farmer in Surat Thani, said the flooding in the South had caused loss of business opportunities for two to three months.


He said shrimp farmers had used that time to restore their farms before breeding a new crop of shrimp. In addition, shrimp farms in the East have suffered from widespread disease. This will cause losses of THB300 million (US$9.8 million).


"Due to these effects, shrimp production will drop 10-15% in the second quarter," Suraphol said, pointing out that heavy rain had also reduced production.

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