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Govt okays commercial cultivation of king prawn

Published : 01 Apr 2023 10:47 PM

The government has approved the commercial cultivation of vannamei shrimp -- also known as king prawn -- in Bangladesh.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock approved the cultivation of vannamei shrimp in a letter to the Director General of the Fisheries Department on March 29. At the same time, guidelines for commercial shrimp cultivation in Bangladesh were provided.

Vannamei shrimp now accounts for 77 percent of the world's shrimp trade. This species of shrimp – also known as the whiteleg shrimp is now being commercially cultivated in 62 countries. Of these, 15 are in Asia.

The demand for vannamei shrimp in the global market is high as the price is lower than that of Bagda shrimp.

Bangladesh’s shrimp export has been in decline in the past few years as the country mainly cultivates and exports freshwater shrimp species such as black tiger shrimp, or ‘bagda’, and scampi shrimp, or ‘galda’.

Exporters have been urging the government to allow commercial cultivation of King Prawn. The shrimp exporters of Khulna thanked the authorities for implementing their long-standing demand.

Meanwhile, local shrimp producers have expressed concern over the development as they’re not well equipped to produce vannamei shrimp locally.

Abdur Rahim, a local shrimp producer from Khulna’s Paikgacha upazila said: “If the commercial cultivation of vannamei shrimp starts locally, we will face a huge loss in terms of shrimp production as the demand will decrease in the market.”

Among the shrimp exporting countries of Asia, commercial cultivation of the king shrimp was banned only in Bangladesh.

Following approval from the Fisheries Department of the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry, Vannamei Shrimp has been harvested experimentally in six ponds of Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) in Khulna’s Paikgacha upazila. And it has demonstrated significant commercial potential.

What is vannamei shrimp?

The vannamei species of shrimp, popularly known as the king prawn, is originally from the US state of Hawaii.

Neighbouring India began commercial cultivation of vannamei shrimp in 2008. Meanwhile, in 1998, Thailand and China started commercial vannamei shrimp cultivation.

In 1987, the Philippines initiated commercial vannamei shrimp cultivation. Myanmar and Vietnam entered the market in the year 2000.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Global Aquaculture Alliance, The global vannamei shrimp production in 2018 was 35.5 lakh metric tons, while the bagda and galda shrimp production was 5.5 lakh metric tons and 2.4 lakh metric tons respectively. Apart from this, 3 lakh metric tons of other species of shrimps have been produced.

Of the total global production of vannamei shrimp in 2018, 23.91 lakh metric tons were produced in China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In 2019, production in these countries increased to 31.12 lakh metric tons while Bangladesh's contribution to the market remained zero.

According to experts, commercial production and export of Vanami shrimp can earn 3 to 4 billion US dollars in revenue and it will help Bangladesh regain its position in the global shrimp market.