Staff Correspondent
Shrimp farming, or bagda hatchery, in fresh water has brought about a major economic change in the country’s south-western region.
The change is now being termed ‘blue revolution’ as shrimp export has emerged as one of the most important export items for Bangladesh.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau, export earnings from shrimp were $446 million in 2016-17.
The progress of this sector in last two decades is really praiseworthy. In the world market, shrimps produced in fresh water are very costly. That is why almost all the shrimps produced in south-western region of the country, especially in Bagerhat, Khulna and Satkhira, are exported to Europe, USA and Japan.
The coastal district of Bagerhat alone accounted for 29 percent of 46,189 tonnes of freshwater shrimps grown in Bangladesh in 2015-16, according to the Department of Fisheries (DoF).
Shrimp-processing is of central importance to the fisheries sector in Bangladesh particularly in the context of export earnings.
Freshwater shrimp accounted for 19 percent of 40,726 tonnes of shrimp exported in 2015-16. Prawn shipment rose to 7,626 tonnes in 2015-16, up 15.78 percent year-on-year, according to the DoF.
In 2015-16, the country produced 1.25 lakh tonnes of shrimp, mainly bagda, in 2.75 lakh hectares area.
The shrimp industry provides direct employment to over 1 million people who in turn support well over 3.5 million dependents. Moreover, this sector also supports large varieties of ancillary industries including shrimp processing plant, feed mills, ice plants, hatcheries culture, net factories, home-based bamboo screen, mat, baskets, rickshaw van, tempo, boat etc.
Shrimp culture mainly is done in traditional method and annual yield is 250-300 kg/ha. The country’s total shrimp farming area is 276,000 hectares. Among them, marine shrimp farming area is 195,000 hectares and freshwater shrimp farming area is 86,000 hectares.
The bagda hatchery sector has expanded rapidly over the last few years. The country’s 60 bagda, or black tiger shrimp, hatcheries produce about 12.0 billion shrimp larvae which are enough to meet the target of production.
The farming of bagda shrimps has brought about a massive change in the everyday economic lives of the people of south-western region. The Fakirhat upazila in Bagerhat is popularly termed as ‘Kuwait of Bangladesh’ due to its financial prosperity through shrimp farming.
At present, there are about 75 feed mills in operation and 20 more in pipeline. Most of these are producing both poultry and fish feeds in which only 10 feed mills exclusively producing fish and shrimp feeds
Shrimp feeds, usually with a poor shelf-life are supplied at the farm level, leading to adverse effects on shrimp farming.
Bangladesh is the 12th largest cultured shrimp producer in the world with 162 fish processing plants in the country of which 96 plants are GOB licensed. Annual production capacity of the 96 plants is more than 3,50,000 MT. Out of 96 plants, 78 plants are European Union compliant and 30 Plants are USFDA Green ticketed.
HACCP has already been introduced in most of fish processing establishments. Traceability system is implementing gradually in each step of shrimp producing, processing and export.
It may be mentioned that shrimp production in Bangladesh is almost organic in nature. So it is natural as well as tasty compared to the shrimp of other countries. Fresh water shrimp (Golda) is especially suitable for the poor farm households and offers a great income earning opportunity.
The industry still has huge potential for both vertical and horizontal expansion as the international demand for shrimp is strong despite global recession. The good news is number of importing countries is on the rise and the processing factories have 80 pc surplus capacities.
Shrimp farming brought dramatic improvements in the lives of the poor in southern districts. It helped reduction of unemployment in the region as the sectors need huge number of daily workers, including women and children.
Thus poor and landless families were also benefited by shrimp farming due to the creation of employment opportunities. In the sector, workers are needed for various jobs to like night guard, pona business, feed business, and marketing.
The women employment has also increased in the region. In various stages of shrimp cultivation such as feed, farm care and management, isle cultivation, women are involved. Shrimp does not only employ thousands of women as labors in the processing factories but also provide huge opportunities to be involved as shrimp farmers.
The impact and influence of Bagda hatchery on environment, biodiversity, ecology and society created long-lasting debate during the last decade. But it has been proved that, in Bangladesh, bagda farming do not cast any negative impact on environment.