July 19, 2011
Vietnam's shrimp farmers resume operations
Mekong Delta shrimp farmers have begun cultivation after two months of spare activity. Adverse weather conditions have continued to spread disease to shrimp crops in the delta coastal provinces since March, pushing prices up and curbing raw material supplies.
In some areas of the coastal province of Bac Lieu -- the worst-affected after Soc Trang -- farmers resumed production after their shrimp ponds were sterilised. Farmers began operating again at other southern provinces as well.
The recent and unprecedented disease outbreaks leading to the death of many shrimp have hit industrial farming only, while household farms have largely been spared, according to an official from Bac Lieu Province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Around 1,495 of 6,072 ha of shrimp farms in Bac Lieu had resumed production as of July 7. The total number of farms affected by the disease is estimated to span 16,720 ha, VNS reports.
In Soc Trang Province, farmers have also followed sanitation tasks with a resumption of production and selling of breeding shrimp.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) informed that more than 19,000 of nearly 26,000 ha of shrimp farms have resumed production.
Due to the drastic lack of raw materials since early this year, about 10 processing factories in Bac Lieu have obtained just 647 tonnes of shrimp. The 36 Plants in Ca Mau had been running at about 50 per cent capacity. The shortage is expected to last for several more months.
Luong Ngoc Lan, head of Bac Lieu Province's Department, said some 3,000-3,500 ha of tiger shrimps were lost by early May also due to shifts in weather conditions and saltwater intrusion.
Also by early May, half of the total farming area in the Mekong Delta had been devastated by disease since the disaster began in March.
Shrimp farmers are taking additional sanitary measures. Lan said that international experts believe contaminated farms spurred the crop deaths.
He said farmers failed to abide by strict sanitation procedures to quickly earn profits at a time of high shrimp prices, and unsanitary methods had left bacteria in ponds and infected developing shrimp.
Regardless, many farmers, including those whose crops are affected, have kept using inadequate sanitary methods. Lan noted that farmers who employed proper sanitation measures made big profits and their shrimp remained healthy.
The department sent experts to the areas suffering the most from the epidemic to inform farmers of the cause and advise them on sanitation procedures before releasing breeding shrimps, according to Lan.