May 31, 2004

 

 

Quality Control Measures In Bangladesh Shrimp Sector

 

The Bangladeshi government is putting in extra efforts for the maintenance of the highest quality in shrimp export to help the country comply with the buyers' requirements, sources said.


"It has already taken again the quality control issue seriously into account so that the country's shrimp exports do not face any shock in the export market," an official source said.


The government's agencies concerned will sit Wednesday next with the major stakeholders of the country's shrimp sector to evaluate their compliance preparations.


Representatives of shrimp cultivators, exporters, processors and officials from the Commerce Ministry and the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) will take part in the meeting to be held at the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, the sources said.


Such special attention has been given against the backdrop of an upcoming visit of a high-profile US survey team to Bangladesh, which will be the first visit by a US inspection team.


A delegation of the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) will arrive in Dhaka in September next to conduct a comprehensive survey on shrimp culture and processing in Bangladesh.


During the two-week-long visit, the delegation will monitor the activities from prawn fry collection to the finished shrimp export, the sources said, adding, the main purpose of their visit will be to check whether any health-related complications exist at any of the said stages.


The team is expected to visit a good number of shrimp enclosures, fry-collection process, processing plants and packing systems in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Khulna shrimp cultivation zones.


Sources further said the delegation will prepare a report on the basis of their survey.


"If the team detects any quality shortcomings that may cause health hazards, the country's shrimp exports to the US market may face a major setback," an official said, adding, any negative impression on the country's shrimp sector would ultimately harm its exports to other foreign markets.


Presently, Bangladesh earns around Tk 20 billion (2,000 crore) annually by exporting about 35,000 tons of shrimp and nearly 40 per cent of the total export earnings come from the US market alone, exporters said.


Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters' Association (BFFEA) President Quazi Manirul Haq told the FE that except for a few areas, the country's shrimp growers and processors are strictly adhering to quality control at all levels, including factories, wholesale trading and transportation of the exportables.


The use of bamboo-made baskets has almost been stopped, Haq said, adding licences have been issued to wholesalers to ensure accountability in the quality control system, he added.


He also mentioned that services and capacities of the existing labs have also been upgraded to help ensure the quality.


Responding to a query, he said, "Hopefully, we will be able to apply the highest quality control methods at all stages within the next couple of months to comply with the buyer requirements." After the imposition of a ban by the European Union (EU) on shrimp import from Bangladesh in 1997, a total of 54 shrimp processing units got clearance from the EU in phases.