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Shrimp exports see sea change

Update: November, 12/2013 - 09:16
Farmers in the northern province of Nam Dinh collect white-legged shrimp, exports of which reached US$1.18 billion as of October. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet

HCM CITY (VNS)  — The export of white-legged shrimp has increased significantly this year and beaten shipments of the black tiger shrimp for the first time.

The export value of US$1.18 billion in the Jan-October period marks a massive 95 per cent year-on-year rise in shipment of the white-legged shrimp, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

In October alone, the export revenues reached $199.3 million, up 168 per cent against the same period last year.

In January, white-legged shrimp accounted for 37.8 per cent of the country's total shrimp export value, while that of black tiger shrimp accounted for 51.3 per cent.

But by September, white-legged shrimp accounted for 47.4 per cent of the total shrimp export value and that of the black tiger shrimp fell to 45.7 per cent.

All major markets, including Japan, the US and EU have imported significantly higher quantities of white-legged shrimp this year.

With the supply of shrimp from other major exporters like India and Thailand decreasing because of disease attacks, demand for Vietnamese crustaceans has surged, and since much larger quantities of white-legged shrimp are cultivated here, export of these have risen considerably as well.

Another reason for the increase in exports is that the holiday season is approaching in the major importing markets, and demand for shrimp usually rises at this time of the year.

Breeding advantages

In Viet Nam, the breeding of large quantities of white-legged shrimp has been allowed in the central and northern regions since 2006 and in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta since 2008.

The area dedicated to white-legged shrimp cultivation has been expanded rapidly in the past few years.

As of September this year, the country had 47,300ha of farms cultivating the white-legged shrimp, according to the Directorate of Fisheries, and a total of 106,479 tonnes were harvested.

Meanwhile, the area under black tiger shrimp cultivation is much higher at 581,500ha for a total harvest of 152,313 tonnes.

In Cuu Long Delta provinces that have large shrimp cultivation areas like Tien Giang, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh, farmers prefer breeding white-legged shrimp as it has high yield and a shorter breeding period.

Farmer Nguyen Huu Vi, who owns three shrimp ponds with a total area of 8,000sq.m in Cau Ngang District's My Long Nam Commune in Tra Vinh, said that after many years of suffering losses from breeding black tiger shrimp because of disease outbreaks, he switched to white-legged shrimp in 2010.

"I have earned profit from every white-legged shrimp crop since 2010," he said.

It takes about 35-40 days to harvest a white-legged shrimp crop and about three months for a black tiger shrimp crop, he said.

Currently, the price of white-legged shrimp (40 shrimp per kg) in the Cuu Long Delta is VND170,000 a kilo while the price of black tiger shrimp (also 40 per kg) is just VND180,000 per kilo.

Nhu Van Can, deputy head of the Aquaculture Cultivation Department of the Directorate of Fisheries, said the area under white-legged shrimp cultivation had risen significantly because it has the advantage of shorter breeding periods, and this helps reduce exposure to disease outbreaks.

In addition, the production cost of white-legged shrimp is about half of the production cost of black tiger shrimp, he said.

However, when the area under white-legged shrimp cultivation expands at the current pace, there is the danger that it will lead to a shortage of shrimp fry, more disease outbreaks, and imbalances in supply and demand, he said.

Experts warn that the cultivation areas of white-legged shrimp should be separate from that of black tiger shrimp as the former can carry many disease germs.

If the area under white-legged shrimp cultivation continues expanding rapidly as is happening now, supply will exceed demand and price will fall, they said.

Competent agencies should step in and control the situation, they added. — VNS


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