May 21, 2012

Shrimp prices double

Demand for Myanmar shrimp and prawns has been stronger than expected and prices have doubled year-on-year, a Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) official said last week.
U Han Tun, the federation’s executive vice chairman, said both fresh- and saltwater species were in demand, adding that prices of black tiger shrimp have more than doubled this year to US$78 a kilogram in April, from $36.20 at the same time last year.
“Saltwater shrimp are mainly caught from the seas off Rakhine State,” he said. “April and May are the major harvest months but June and July are spawning season, so the catch will decrease then,” he said.
U Hnin Oo, chairman of the Myanmar Shrimp Association, said demand for the crustaceans was strong in the domestic and international markets.
“We can’t supply enough shrimp to meet demand but the larger 4/6 size shrimp are taken from the sea and we need to start farming them to protect the marine fisheries,” he said.
He added that farming of the saltwater species was unprofitable when export tax was 10 percent but now that export taxes have been cut to 2pc it was time to begin setting up farms.
“We need government support [for our industry] like farmers in other countries receive if we’re going to start farming saltwater shrimp, particularly help to build infrastructure,” he said.
He warned that if the government did not help businesspeople to build saltwater shrimp farms, then entrepreneurs would refrain from investing.
Daw Toe, a Yangon Fisheries Federation official, said she had never heard of people paying up to $30 for a single 200g shrimp, adding that overseas buyers must be very rich.
“But we can only farm smaller 6/8 or 8/10 size shrimp,” she said. “We should do research on farming larger shrimp to earn higher prices. And we need to protect this species in the wild or it might get fished out.”
U Myo Aung, a shrimp farmer in Rakhine State’s Sittwe township, said the higher prices came at a time when transport charges had increased significantly and feed costs were also rising.
“I started a saltwater tiger shrimp farm on May 9 that covers 1.5 acres and is 7 feet. I put 95,000 shrimp into the farm, which cost me K20 million. I hope my shrimp will grow to at least 100g each,” he said.
Japan is the main buyer of Myanmar shrimp but U Hnin U said there was great potential to export to the EU in future. 

Source: Myanmar Times