February 28, 2005



Bangladesh government to find ways of helping local shrimp exporters


In the wake of sharp decline in shrimp export the Bangladeshi government will sit with exporters today to find possible ways to overcome the situation.


Bangladesh's shrimp export dipped by 37 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal year.


"The meeting will find reasons for the setback and chalk out future steps to tackle the current problems," said an official of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA).


Exporters, top officials of fisheries ministry and Department of Fisheries will attend the meeting, convened by commerce ministry.


According to sources, arrival of a low cost variety of shrimp called Vannami, which has earned considerable popularity in the global market, and price fall in the international market are major reasons behind the setback.


Shrimp export from the Asian countries has been facing another blow for the last two months as buyers are cancelling orders fearing outbreak of waterborne diseases in the aftermath of devastating tsunami in the region in December last year.


The US buyers are also hesitant to place orders fearing outbreaks of cholera and diarrhoea in shrimp producing countries in the region, industry sources said.


Shrimp exporters said production costs and mortality rate of the new variety, Vannami, are lower than those of Bangladeshi varieties.


China, a major shrimp exporter, introduced Vannami in late 2002 and it became popular in late 2003. As India, Thailand and Vietnam have started cultivating this new variety and are offering cheap rates, buyers are now lukewarm about Bangladeshi Galda variety, which is costlier than Vannami.


Now, a pound of Vannami variety sells at US$3 to US$3.50 while Galda variety costs around US$4.80 in the international market.


"The exporters urged the government earlier to allow them to cultivate the new type of shrimp locally so as to keep pace with the latest development, but it is yet to be decided. The issue will also be discussed in the meeting," an official source said.