Thailand to import 10,500 tonnes of shrimp as domestic yield sinks
Thailand will import over 10,500 tonnes of sea shrimps this year to ease a shortage at processing plants. The move was announced on Monday at the first meeting of the shrimp board, chaired by Fisheries Department chief Chalermchai Suwannarak.
The new board has 21 members representing the government as well as shrimp farmers and processors.
Chalermchai said the board’s main goal is to help farmers by stabilising the price of Pacific white shrimp. But since domestic production cannot meet demand from processors for export, the board decided to allow 10,501 tonnes of shrimp to be imported from Ecuador and India this year, he added.
About 42 tonnes of shrimp have been imported since the Fisheries Dept approved shipments on June 10.
Chalermchai said the imports would not affect the price of Pacific white shrimp raised by Thai farmers but would only fill the gap in demand.
The board has targeted domestic production of 320,000 tonnes of white shrimp this year, rising to 400,000 tonnes next year.
The board would also help sea shrimp farmers in 35 provinces increase quality and quantity of their produce by offering mobile clinics and hotlines to counsel farmers about shrimp diseases. Outbreaks would be dealt with quickly by the mobile clinics, the fisheries chief added.
This year, Thailand has produced 138,733 tonnes of shrimp up to the end of July – 129,100 tonnes of Pacific white shrimp and 9,632 tonnes of black tiger prawns, Chalermchai said.
Panisuan Chamnarnwej, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, said importing shrimp was necessary to save the frozen food industry because domestic production has almost halved from 500,000 tonnes per year to 270,000 tonnes per year.
He said his association members would focus on processing shrimps for export so their imports would not affect domestic shrimp prices.
The association was also working closely with the Fisheries Dept to prevent imported shrimps spreading diseases to local farms.
Thailand now has about 30,000 shrimp farms covering 600,000 rai of land, according to the Federation of Thai Aquaculture. However, it confirms that production has dropped to 250,000-350,000 tonnes per year due to persistent outbreaks of early mortality syndrome (EMS).