Agri Business Enterprise, which got permission last week to cultivate high-yielding shrimp variety Vannamei, in Cox's Bazar for one year, will not be able to start the cultivation in the period.
Officials of the Chattogram-based farm said they had sought five years for cultivation of the variety of shrimp, also known as whiteleg, and it would not be possible for them to start the cultivation in one year.
They said only one year is insufficient for the beginning of its cultivation, and the technology for farm development, trained manpower, and shrimp fry have to be imported from abroad.
Also, feed has to be prepared for the shrimp.
Additionally, there is a season for its cultivation. So, it is not possible to start cultivation in such a short time.
Nizam, the entrepreneur of Agri Business Enterprise, told The Business Standard, "We applied for a five-year time frame as it is very difficult to do aquaculture engineering of a new variety of shrimp within a year."
Bangladesh does not have trained manpower in this regard. So, there is a little bit of difficulty
"Even if I want to bring manpower from abroad, I cannot do so due to Covid-19. Bangladesh does not have trained manpower in this regard. So, there is a little bit of difficulty."
Sources said Vannamei fries have to be imported and cultivation can begin after the necessary tests at the laboratory of the Department of Fisheries and Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute.
However, there are questions among entrepreneurs about the capacity of the department and the institute to test a good number of shrimp fries.
Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association President Kazi Belayet Hossain said, "It was not possible to cultivate Vannamei before because the water did not have the required salinity. The next season will start in February 2021. We are working to start farming in February."
Entrepreneurs said in September last year, the Department of Fisheries gave permission to two farms – Shushilan, a non-governmental organisation in Khulna, and MUC Foods – to start a pilot cultivation of Vannamei Shrimp. They were supposed to cultivate the variety in Paikgasa area of Khulna but have not started doing so yet.
Lobster and shrimp can be cultivated once a year, and Vannamei shrimp can be farmed thrice a year
They further said lobster and shrimp can be cultivated once a year, and Vannamei shrimp can be farmed thrice a year. A typical pond produces 300-400 kilogrammes of shrimp per hectare. But it is possible to produce 6,000-7,000 kilogrammes of Vannamei shrimp in a pond of the same size.
The frozen food exporters association said both shrimp production and exports had been steadily declining. Shrimp is cultivated in 2.75 lakh hectares of land every year.
Sources said local entrepreneurs are preparing to import Vannamei fries from India and Thailand.
Shrimp export was $333 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year, down from $361 million in 2018-19. It was $409 million a year before that
Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) sources said shrimp export was $333 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year, down from $361 million in 2018-19. It was $409 million a year before that.
Belayet said, "Vannamei is being cultivated all over the world now. If we can start its cultivation in full swing, our shrimp production and export will increase."