The government is considering giving permission to produce vannamei variety shrimp to help increase the export earnings from frozen fish sector, sources said.
To this effect, a technical committee headed by Goljar Hossain, director general of Department of Fisheries (DoF) held its first meeting on Monday.
It suggested for a feasibility study in giving permission to a certain number of producers who are complying with bio-security and other issues, said an official.
Representatives from private sectors and departments concerned were present at the meeting which also discussed about the infrastructure condition of vannamei production, the overall scenario of shrimp culture in Bangladesh.
The members of the meeting also gave their opinion on the present global update on vannamei production and merits and demerits of farming of the new species in Bangladesh. The suggestions will be put forward to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock for taking necessary action.
However, frozen shrimp exporters have been demanding of the government to allow production of vannamei to increase their export earnings.
But government did not allow them due to lack of required infrastructures and bio-security measures.
Currently vannamei is a leading item in the world shrimp market. Because of cheaper price, consumers prefer this item in Europe and USA, the key markets of frozen shrimp.
As a result, Bangladeshi black tiger species lost its competiveness. Exporters said they incurred huge losses in the last five to seven years.
As the production of local varieties is also insufficient, they can't utilise the capacity of processing plants, said Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA) president Amin Ullah.
He said at present more than 75 per cent of the total world shrimp production is vannamei. Some 32 countries are culturing such category of shrimp.
"So we should also start production of the shrimp. It will help increase foreign currency as well as meet local protein demand," he added.
But a senior official of the DoF, wishing anonymity told the FE that without domestication and ensuring quarantine system they will not allow commercial production of vannamei.
So at first they will launch a pilot project with one to two hatcheries.
"If it works properly then we will think about going for commercial production," he said.
Other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India also followed the same method. New variety sometimes brings virus causing huge losses to farmers.
"We can't harm our local shrimp. We have to protect it at first," he added.
When asked, he said three to four years will be needed to complete the project.
Rafiqul Islam, executive director of BSFF said the prices of vannamei dropped in recent years due to higher supply. Some countries have started again to cultivate black tiger.
So before going for production, the commercial viability of vannamei should be assessed for Bangladesh, he said.
He however, said local black tiger should be more focused as it has necessary infrastructures and environment. "If farmers can go for semi-intensive and improved cultivation, the production will increase several times," Mr Islam said.
Processing plant owners should invest in semi-intensive farming of shrimp, he said.
Bangladeshi is the 7th among the top 10 shrimp exporting countries in the world. The country exports only 2.0 per cent of the international demand for frozen shrimp, according to the Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF).
BFFEA president Mr Amin Ullah said they also don't want to destroy originality of local variety and want to increase the production.
"But if we want to compete in international market we have to go for cultivation of vannamei as still now the demand for this item is increasing among the consumers," he said.
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