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Shrimp exports on road to recovery

SHRIMP FARMERS envision brighter prospects for their industry and exports next year as production recovers from disease and many target markets recover from economic slowdowns.

"With stringent control of disease and innovation in shrimp hatcheries, output should increase next year. Shrimp production should be back to normal by the second quarter. Shrimp exports should also rise, thanks to more supply and stronger demand from importing countries including the US, EU and Japan," Somsak Praneetatyasai, president of the Thai Shrimp Association, said yesterday.

The association forecasts total domestic production expanding by 20 per cent to 300,000-320,000 tonnes next year after this year's output plunged by 54 per cent to only 250,000 tonnes due to the spread of early mortality syndrome in shrimp hatcheries.

The association projects exports jumping by 20 per cent to 240,000 tonnes worth Bt70 billion next year.

In the first 10 months of this year, shrimp exports plummeted by 38.4 per cent in volume to 175, 713 tonnes, and by 28.89 per cent in value to Bt56.27 billion, as supply was severely crimped. It is estimated that shrimp exports would reach 200,000 tonnes by the end of this year.

The value of shrimp exports has not dropped a much as volume because the price of shrimp has zoomed up following lower supply in the world market, which is mainly provided by Thailand.

Despite the outbreak, shrimp farmers have not yet totally turned their backs to the industry as the shrimp price has climbed up sharply this year.

About 50-70 shrimp hatcheries have suspended operations, but farmers still maintained some hatcheries to raise shrimp due to the higher return.

For instance, the price of a kilogram of 70 shrimp is quoted at Bt270 this year, compared with last year's less than Bt180-Bt190 a kilo.

Due to lower shrimp production, Thailand this year lost its title as the world's largest exporter to India and Ecuador. However, with the strict measures to restore shrimp hatcheries, Thailand should become the world champion again in two years.

Shrimp farmers nationwide have learned to develop their shrimp raising, starting from the nursery, to be bio-secure, as well as to increase efficiency in farming management to prevent disease.

However, the national association and regional shrimp producers associations are worried about the Fishery Department's plan to import shrimp from Indonesia and India to offset lower domestic supply, as that could introduce new diseases.

The association has already sent a letter to the department asking it to limit the period for shrimp imports, which is set at a maximum of 20,000 a month.

It said that if there is any allowance for shrimp imports, the government should ensure sanitary standards.

The import of shrimp should be only for three months from January-March, as domestic output is expected to improve in April.

Banjonk Nissapawanich, president of the Shrimp Farmers of the East Association, said farmers in the region were small producers and accounted for 30 per cent of total production in the country.

The outbreak this year has caused problems for farmers, but with the higher price, the industry was not seriously damaged.


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