The government has given permission to import more than 5.11 million pieces of non-native vannamei shrimp seed, aiming to start commercial cultivation of vannamei shrimp in the country, according to the commerce ministry. A company named Green Bio Tech (BD) Corporation will import the shrimp seed called “Live White Shrimp-PL (10-12) Litopenaeus Vanname” from India.

The permission has been given on condition that such seed will be used only for production of new seed. The commerce ministry issued the permission regarding the issue on March 27. The government has already allowed starting commercial production of vannamei shrimp, also known as whiteleg shrimp in the country, with a view to adding it to the country’s export basket.

In 2020, the Department of Fisheries (DoF) for the first time, permitted two pilot projects on vannamei shrimp farming. One project was run by Shushilan at the Saline Water Centre of the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) in the coastal Paikgachha upazila of Khulna. It launched cultivation in March 2021 and harvested its first batch of 13,896 kilograms of shrimp in July 2021.

However, the other one by the Agribusiness Enterprise Development and Services did not start operations. Following the success of the first pilot project, the DoF allowed 11 more firms, including M.U. Sea Foods Ltd, Grow tech Aquaculture ltd, and Fahim Seafood Ltd, at different times to cultivate the hybrid shrimp variety on a trial basis.

Frozen fish exporters have long been demanding that the government allow vannamei farming, as Bangladesh’s black-tiger shrimp species has lost price competitiveness in key western markets, like the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). The export volume and earnings from the frozen shrimp sector will simply double within five years by exporting such a variety of shrimp, an official said, adding that it will also help meet the local demand for shrimp.

According to the frozen fish exporters, vannamei is a leading item on the global shrimp market because of its affordable price. More than 60 countries, including China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ecuador and Mexico, are producing vannamei, meeting about 80 per cent of the global demand. However, Bangladeshi exports meet only 2.0 per cent of the international demand for frozen shrimp, according to the Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation. The country once boasted about 100 frozen-fish factories and this sector ranked second among the export-oriented sectors even a decade ago.