The government has allowed two entrepreneurs to pilot the cultivation of vannamei, a non-native species of shrimps, in the country as it decided in principle to go for introducing the variety in the country.
A fisheries ministry-formed technical committee on feasibility for introducing vannamei on Monday allowed Shushilan, a non-government organisation in Khulna, and Agri Business Enterprise in Chattogram to launch two separate pilot projects for introducing vannamei under the supervision of the Department of Fisheries and the Bangladesh Fish Research Institute.
According to the decision of the meeting of the technical committee, one pilot project would be implemented at Paikgacha in Khulna and the other in Cox’s Bazar.
Country’s shrimp exporters have been demanding for more than a decade to allow the culture of vannamei in the country to remain competitive in the export market as the earnings from the local variety black tiger have decreased for high prices and lower production.
The government was reluctant to allow the vannamei variety as green activists claimed that the culture of the variety would be harmful for biosecurity.
‘Against the backdrop of the longstanding demand from shrimp exporters, the government decided in principle to introduce the vannamei variety, known as white leg shrimps, in the country,’ DoF additional director general Md Ramzan Ali told New Age on Thursday.
He said that the DoF allowed two entrepreneurs to pilot for one year under the close supervision of the government and if the pilot projects achieved success, the commercial production of vannamei would be allowed across the country.
‘Hopefully, the piloting will be successful as we will give our full efforts to the projects so that the country can gain more production of shrimps,’ Ramzan said.
Md Golam Mostafa, former president of the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association, appreciated the government’s decision to allow vannamei variety in the country and said that the government should come up with the infrastructure facility for the culture of the species.
He said that exporters had been demanding for long introduction of the species in the country as the local item black tiger was losing its market due to high production cost.
Mostafa said that vannamei grabbed 80 per cent of the market of the total shrimp export in the world while the share of black tiger decreased to only 10 per cent.
The production of vannamei is 20 times higher than the local item and Bangladesh should have introduced the variety more than 10 years ago to retain the global market share, he said.
According to Mostafa, the production of vannamei shrimps is 20 tonnes a hectare while the production of local variety is one tonne a hectare.
Former BFFEA president Kazi Belayet Hossain said that the government allowed two entrepreneurs for piloting vannamei cultivation but the government should have taken the initiative as it had logistics.
He said that the country’s shrimp exporters had been demanding for 15 years introduction of vannamei in the country.
Belayet said that it would take three to four years to go for commercial production of the variety after piloting.
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