Training and quality
seed boosts shrimp
Since 2012, shrimp farmers in Bangladesh have been using better management practices and quality virus-free seed, which have boosted the sector’s productivity.
A quiet revolution is happening in the ponds of shrimp farmers in Bangladesh. In 2012, the average commercial shrimp farmer produced around 230 kg per hectare, which is low for global averages. Now, many farmers produce 280 kg per hectare, a 21 percent increase.
This is thanks to the USAID-funded Aquaculture for Income and Nutrition project, which has been training shrimp farmers in better management practices and supporting access to high-quality shrimp seed since 2012.
In the first year, 30-40% of us used this seed and 95% of our shrimp did not have any virus. After that, 100% of cultivators used this virus-free shrimp seed. – Sujit Mondol, commercial shrip farmer
For commercial shrimp farmer Sujit Mondol, who started farming shrimp in 2004, the practices he first used on his farm resulted in low yields, a common situation for many shrimp farmers in Bangladesh. But that all changed in 2012, when Sujit attended training run by WorldFish.
“They trained us on four things including how to increase the depth of our ghers, how to release quality shrimp seed in a gher, and how to give supplementary food,” explains the father-of-two Sujit from Khulna district. “The first year I followed these practices my shrimp production increased to double the previous year.” Since 2012, over 50,000 commercial shrimp farmers have been trained.
Through the training, farmers learn that using quality shrimp seed is crucial for preventing disease. Of particular concern is the devastating white spot syndrome (WSS) virus, which can destroy entire populations of shrimp farms within a few days.
In 2012, the project starting worked with 24 hatcheries to make WSS-free seed available to shrimp farmers. The seed, known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-tested seed, is tested and certified by hatcheries as free of the WSS virus before sale. “In the first year, 30-40% of us used this seed and 95% of our shrimp did not have any virus. After that, 100% of cultivators used this virus-free shrimp seed,” Sujit explains.
Following the good uptake by farmers, a second type of seed known as specific pathogen free (SPF) seed was made available in 2014. “In 2014 we learned about another type of fish seed, which is free from nine viruses. We decided that even if it is costly, we wanted quality fish seed,” says Sujit.
On average, these two types of seed cost between BDT 150-600 per 1000 seed (USD 1.90-7.60) more than local seed, reflecting the products' higher quality and the rigorous testing processes they go through. “Some people asked why this seed is costly and why we should buy them,” explains Sugit. “But when they got a good result by farming them, then 100% started to use it.”
Between 2013 and 2015, the project distributed over one billion post larvae to shrimp farmers. Yet, says Mohammad Kudrat-E-Kabir, AIN Project Manager, farmers can’t depend on virus-free seed alone to boost production. “Producers have to properly care for their ponds by keeping the water deep enough, checking if the water is clear or not, feeding the shrimp properly and sometimes checking their health,” he says. “If they do all this, then you will get healthy and fresh shrimp and get a better result than from normal seed.”
Most of Bangladesh’s shrimp is exported to Europe and North America, where regulators and buyers are calling for greater traceability back to the producer. To prove that Bangladeshi shrimp is high quality and safe, the project has established a pilot e-traceability system.
Before, explains AIN portfolio coordinator Mohammad Islam, “if any shipment or shrimp products were caught in the international market with any antibiotics or dangerous medicines, they couldn’t track the country, region and farmer that the product came from.” Thanks to the software, which records the seed, feed and medicines used, farmers can show that international standards are being applied.
Together, these interventions are proving to be a huge benefit for the Bangladeshi shrimp sector. Farmers are producing better quality shrimp; the country can increase its export earnings; and end-consumers have greater confidence in the shrimp they’re eating, which is a win-win for everyone.
ProjectAquaculture for Income and Nutrition
PartnersCommunity Development Center
Society for People's Education, Empowerment and Development Trust
Bangladesh Shrimp & Fish Foundation
Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute
Department of Fisheries, Bangladesh
Related sustainable development goals
TagsBangladesh, Asia, small-scale aquaculture, training, sustainability, livelihoods
commercial shrimp farmers have been trained in better management practices since 2012
billion post larvae, free from WSS and other specific viruses, distributed between 2013 and 2015
average increase in production yield by trained farmers that use quality seed
Photo credits - WorldFish.