A decline in exports coupled with internal issues has cast a shadow over what was once a thriving sector of the country’s economy. Amid the gloom, however, there are glimmers of hope and opportunities for revitalisation. One of the primary factors contributing to the decline in the shrimp industry is the global market slowdown. The reduced demand for shrimp on the international stage has impacted Bangladesh’s exports significantly.

Besides, internal challenges such as mismanagement in shrimp farming have compounded the industry’s woes. Regions like Mongla, known for their significant shrimp enclosures, have witnessed a stark reduction in the number of operational enclosures. This decline is not isolated to Mongla but extends to other key shrimp farming areas like Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Khulna, Satkhira, and Bagerhat.

Issues ranging from water access to administrative complications have plagued shrimp farmers, exacerbating the crisis. The statistics paint a grim picture: while the export target for the fiscal year 2022-23 was set at $328 million, the actual export fell short, standing at $212.29 million. This represents a worrisome 21.27% decrease compared to the previous year. Kazi Belayet Hossain, President of the Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association, attributes this decline to falling shrimp prices despite global price hikes for other products.

To address these challenges and revive the industry, various strategies have been proposed. One such initiative is the introduction of Vannamei shrimp farming, approved by the government to diversify shrimp cultivation. Vannamei shrimp boasts higher production yields and a shorter growth period compared to traditional varieties like Bagda shrimp.

Despite these initial hurdles, there is optimism surrounding the potential of Vannamei shrimp farming to breathe new life into the industry. Government efforts to establish specialized fish economic zones in Chittagong and Khulna signify a commitment to rejuvenating shrimp farming. These economic zones aim to attract foreign investment and provide a conducive environment for shrimp cultivation.

However, for the shrimp industry to truly reclaim its golden past, structural reforms and concerted efforts are imperative. Addressing issues related to enclosure management, ensuring investment-friendly policies, and enhancing awareness about innovative farming practices like Vannamei shrimp cultivation are crucial steps forward. While Bangladesh’s shrimp industry currently faces significant challenges, there is a path to resurgence. By embracing innovation, addressing internal obstacles, and fostering a supportive ecosystem, the country can once again witness the prosperity of its ‘white gold’ industry. With strategic interventions and collaborative efforts, the future of Bangladesh’s shrimp industry holds promise.