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August 18, 2016

Ecuador's government vows aid to quake-affected shrimp farmers


Ecuador's shrimp farms have been severely damaged by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April this year. With reconstruction as priority, the country's third-most important sector for exports may soon receive government aid consisting of loans and technical assistance. 

The Ecuadorian government has stressed the importance of fully restoring the condition of shrimp farms damaged by the strong earthquake some four months ago as shrimp, it said, represents a very high "opportunity cost" in terms of the payment balance of Ecuador.

According to the Aquaculture and Fisheries Deputy Minister Pilar Proaño, shrimp is the third-most important exported product of Ecuador, generating US$975 million in revenue during the first five months of this year. It represents 15% of the country's total exports and 20% of primary exports.

The powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck on April 16, damaged around 12,600 hectares of shrimp farms in the devastated provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas, which both host around 30,000 hectares of shrimp ponds. The damaged ponds represent a loss of five million pounds of shrimp, according to the government.

Around $24.6 million would be needed to repair direct damage to shrimp farming infrastructure, a news report by El Telegrafo stated. To accelerate economic recovery in Manabi and Esmeraldas, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries has submitted a "proposal for transformation" that includes loan grants, technical assistance and machinery facilitation, fis.com reported.

Proaño made the assurance that the government was working to offer aid to all affected stakeholders so that they could rebuild their production facilities and maintain their export levels.

Ecuador is one of the top shrimp producers in the world and is currently the third-largest shrimp exporter to the US. The industry, however, has been hampered by disease outbreaks.

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