Experts at a consultation put emphasis on branding Bangladeshi black-tiger shrimp (BTS) globally to boost export earnings from the sector that has remained stunted for more than a decade.
They also suggested bringing massive infrastructural development in shrimp-growing regions with necessary investment to get desired output and exports from the newly-adopted vannamei species.
The experts made the observations on the concluding day of the CGIAR Expert Consultation Workshop styled 'Rethinking Food Markets and Value Chains for Inclusion and Sustainability' hosted in the CIRDAP auditorium.
They said enthusiasm about shrimp production and exports has gradually been fading away from this doom-laden sector since fiscal year 2013-14.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), shrimp export reached its peak at $550 million in FY14 and started falling since then.
Meanwhile, the CGIAR did a scoping study to document the issues facing the sector, including interviews with 25 multi-stakeholder experts, following the workshop.
Although vannamei approvals and trials are there, the study revealed, initial enthusiasm and optimism around its export prospects are somewhat tempered.
Most stakeholders believe Bangladesh's best opportunities remain in bagda or BTS with a focus on international market development and global branding.
Experts also pointed to a growing domestic market for shrimp and prawn.
There may also be opportunities to target niche markets for shrimp based on sustainable production practices, they told CGIAR during the study.
Prof Dr Mohammad Mahfuzul Haque of aquaculture department said a third-party branding of tiger shrimp is needed to boost export globally.
He said, "BTS is a unique species of Bangladesh and we need certification for our safe products from globally recognised certification agencies, and organisations."
"To get that certification, we need to adopt good aquaculture practices, we have to use specific pathogen-free broodstock and should bring some infrastructural changes too."
He said the government has recently endorsed vannamei production. "Apart from BTS, we'll also try vannamei."
"But we need specific market research, the global trend, massive infrastructural development and investments for vannamei," said Mr Haque.
Monoj Kumar Mistri, deputy project director of Sustainable Shrimp Farming project run by fisheries department, said 7,500 farmers under 300 clusters have been using SPF broodstocks under his project.
He said production has increased to 1,500 kilogram per hectare from 500 kg earlier, he added.
Mr Mistri said three hatcheries now supply 700-million post-larvae (PL) while the demand is 10-billion PL.
Many companies will be transformed into SPF hatcheries soon then production would surpass 5.0-billion PL.
Meanwhile, Mr Haque cited that the lack of local shrimp feed companies is a great problem for the sector.
The country is fully dependent on imported shrimp feed.
He hopes the opening of Padma bridge will help motivate many businesses to invest in the sector and this way local shrimp feed mills can be set up in near future.
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) research fellow Dr Sudha Narayanan delivered a welcome address while International Centre for Tropical Agriculture official Ricardo Hernandez made concluding remarks.