July 31, 2013
Bangladeshi shrimps see rising world demand
While costlier than vannamei, the country's black tiger shrimps are notably popular for their good taste, exporters said.
"We are sure of fetching nearly US$600 million this fiscal year as the demand for our shrimps has increased in importing countries," said Kazi Belayet Hossain, senior vice president of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association, BFFEA.
He said vannamei, a cheaper alternative, leads ahead of black tiger shrimps during global recession. Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries have also introduced the species. For the last one year, vannamei production has drastically fallen due to viral contamination, he said.
"Buyers in western countries are coming back to us…and we are fighting to enhance production on our 2.75 lakh (275,000) hectares of farmland," he said.
Due to rising demand, many farmers are plannig to switch from traditional farming methods to semi-intensive cultivation. In the traditional method, each hectare of harvest comes around 250 to 300 kilogrammes, while semi-intensive methods can produce 800 to 1,000 kilogrammes, according to M Khalilullah, vice president of BFEEA in the Khulna region.
He added that production in Khulna could not be increased due to inferior shrimp fry quality. "Most of the mother shrimp collected from the Bay of Bengal is infected…causing baby shrimps not to grow properly," Khalilullah explained. He also believed that hatcheries are responsible for spreading infections.
According to Khalilullah, the only challenge shrimp exporters are facing is inadequate production. Despite various constraints, exports of frozen shrimp have increased marginally from Khulna region, he said.
"We do not have quick solution to raise production but we want idle public lands (khas land) to be used for shrimp and prawn farming," said Belayet Hossain, the senior vice president of BFFEA in Dhaka.
Despite a ban on Hilsha fish, Bangladesh exported some 58,000 tonnes of frozen fish in the last fiscal year, he said.