January 25, 2008


Thailand to reshape shrimp farming through cohesive cooperatives



Thailand looks on upgrading the reliability of shrimp operations by establishing cooperatives patterned after a business model in Japan, which successfully banded together fishermen in groups for every 12 kilometres.


Pinyo Kiatipinyo, chairman of the Federation of Shrimp Farmers Co-operatives of Thailand, emphasized on the strength in numbers, thus the need for farmers to huddle together to survive the industry.


Ten years ago, Thailand's booming shrimp production enticed a number of people to invest in aquaculture. However, many of the investors incurred losses and financial institutions saw massive non-performing loans.


The failure, Pinyo cited, was a result of poor quality in farming which did not meet international standards. He said that the best way for farmers to surge on is to rethink their business operations.


Currently, there are more than 25,000 retail shrimp farmers across Thailand. The federation grouped them together to five cooperatives with 1,200 members on a 4,000-hectare land.


The idea was patterned after Japan's business model wherein fishermen were huddled together in cooperatives on every 12-kilometre route.


Pinyo said the strategy will allow shrimp farmers to meet Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standards and expand their markets not only locally but internationally.


Harnet Co-operative Co, a Japanese purchaser of Thai shrimp, already expressed plans to buy shrimp directly from retail farmers through the federation.


Under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement, local-level businesses of both countries are entitled to conduct direct trade with each other.


Furthermore, Marks and Spencer from the UK also informed the Fishery Department that it will buy shrimp from the farmers' cooperative at Sam Roi Yod, Prachuap Khiri Khan.


Cooperatives will allow retail farmers to protect themselves from losing their land to influential local figures and surpass high feed costs by developing local raw materials, Pinyo concluded.

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