India's frozen shrimp exports increased by 55.41 percent in the outgoing financial year. The country's Bagda shrimp export has increased to 32 crore dollars. At the same time, Bangladesh's frozen shrimp exports decreased by 26.27 percent. In that, the export of shrimp decreased from 40 crore 72 lakh dollars to 30 crore dollars last year.
Bangladesh's frozen food exporters say the Russia-Ukraine war has reduced demand as well as prices. On the other hand, the cultivation of Venami shrimp, a high-yielding variety of shrimp, has not fully started. Most of the shrimps currently exported from various countries are Venami. As a result, the export of frozen shrimp naturally decreased.
In such a context, how did India increase Bagda exports, why Bangladesh could not - let's find the answer to that question. Before that, it is better to say that India's export of frozen shrimp is more than 500 crore dollars. Most of them are Venami. However, their exports of Venami prawns fell by 8 percent to $ 481 crore in the last financial year.
The highest shrimp export from Bangladesh was 55 crore dollars in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Then the export of the product decreased for seven consecutive years. After Corona, shrimp exports worth 41 million dollars in fiscal year 2021-22. The growth is 23.84 percent. In a gap of one year, the export of shrimp has again gone into a negative trend. Although the government has been providing cash assistance of up to 10 percent over the years to export the product.
Exports of Bangladesh are very small compared to the global shrimp market. According to OEC World, an internationally recognized business and economic database, in 2021, shrimp exports were worth 2203 crore dollars from different countries around the world. Ecuador exported the highest 23.9 percent of it. Then India exported 23.5 percent, Vietnam 10 percent, Indonesia 6.75 percent, and Argentina 5 percent. Bangladesh's shrimp export share was one and a half percent that year.
On the other hand, according to the information of the International Trade Center (ITC), in 2022, Ecuador exported the most 11 lakh 41 thousand metric tons of shrimp. Then India exported 7 lakh 4 thousand and Vietnam 3 lakh 79 thousand metric tons of shrimp. And Bangladesh exported only 25 thousand metric tons.
In Bangladesh, shrimp farming is done in Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Patuakhali, Barguna, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Noakhali, and Mymensingh. There are 108 shrimp processing factories for export. Among them, 30-35 factories produce regularly. However, due to a lack of raw materials, none of them are able to run production at full capacity.
What is the solution then Venami?
Exporters have been negotiating with the government for a long time for permission to cultivate Venami shrimp in the country. However, the Department of Fisheries did not encourage or permit the cultivation of Venami in the beginning on the grounds that it could have an adverse effect on the environment. Finally, in September 2019, the government allowed experimental shrimp farming. Due to Corona, it also got delayed. In 2021, experimental cultivation of Venami shrimp was started at the brackish water research center located in Paikgacha upazila of Khulna. Later last year, eight institutions cultivated Venami experimentally.
After successful experimental farming, the government decided to allow commercial production of this high-yielding variety of shrimp this year. So far three institutions have received permission to cultivate Venami commercially. In that continuation, the Department of Fisheries also gave experimental permission to an organization in Khulna to produce Venamir fry.
Since two decades ago, the popularity of Venami Prawns has been increasing worldwide due to its cheaper price. Venami accounts for 77 percent of all shrimp exported worldwide.
Amin Ullah, former president of the Frozen Food Exporters Association, said, 'It took 5-10 years for India to succeed in Venami. As a result, we should not hurry. Banks should come forward to provide capital to farmers to make Venami farming a success. Currently, Bagda cultivation takes 1-2 lakhs per acre. Venami should be done in a semi-incentive manner. It will require at least Tk 10 lakh per acre.
Why is Baghdad falling behind?
In India, 1.75 lakh hectares of land are cultivated for shrimp. Production is 8 lakh metric tons. On the contrary, in Bangladesh, 2 lakh 62 hectares of land are cultivated for shrimp. Production of 1 lakh 37 thousand metric tons of shrimp. That means India's production is more than six times higher than Bangladesh's, despite cultivating much less land.
MU Sea Foods of Jessore has been in the frozen shrimp business for three and a half decades. In the last financial year 2020-21, the company exported frozen shrimp worth 1 crore 10 lakh dollars. By the end of the year, it had dropped slightly to $ 1 crore.
Shyamal Das, managing director of MUC Foods, said, "Most of India's frozen shrimp exports are Venami." Still, Bagda cultivation has been increased in Gujarat for two years.
As a result, they are able to deliver five tons of Bagda in a 20-ton Vanami container according to the customer's demand. They are leading because of diversified products. And we are falling behind.
Shyamal Dash also said, "In order to survive in Bagda exports, production costs must be reduced. Before the war, a pound of shrimp (headless 16-20 piece shrimp) cost $14.50. Now $11 is not worth more than 20 cents. There is no alternative to using modern technology to increase production.
Apart from that, the chicks available in hatcheries in India have good health and less disease. In order to turn around in our export of frozen prawns, we need to take effective initiatives to ensure the supply of quality prawns besides increasing the use of technology.