Day 11 5th December: The shrimp industry in the eyes of conventional (non organic) farmers

5th December Day 11 The shrimp industry in the eyes of conventional Farmers

Md Jinnat Ali Mir (right side), 67 years old, is a conventional shrimp farmer. He is married and has four sons and one daughter. He owns 4 bigha land and leases 6 bigha for shrimp production from another land owner, besides which he has one bigha for rice production. Before 1993 he was a rice farmer, but then shrimp became profitable and his neighbours started to culture shrimp, which hampered his rice production. A local political leader who was involved in shrimp farming showed him how he too could convert to shrimp. He is happy about this decision because shrimp farming allows him to be economically solvent. He built a house, could pay for his son to study and spent money in the marriage of his daughter. Moreover, he thinks Bangladesh can earn foreign currency from shrimp exports. In his view the main problem for the shrimp industry is the risk of shrimp catching diseases causing significant mortalities in hos stocks , which can make the life of the farmers rather insecure. Another problem is related to the (increasing?) salinity of the shrimp farm areas, which now makes rice production nearly impossible, or at least not productive. He tried once to produce rice in his gher, but did not get a good harvest. He uses decomposed aquatic wheat as a natural fertilizer in his gher , because it is good for the natural environment. In addition, he uses some chemical fertilizers and in the case of disease in the shrimp he purchases medicine for treating them from a local chemical store, though this leads to increasing input costs. In the opinion of Md Jinnat Ali Mir, he is doing all that he can to provide a high quality product, but the later links in the value chain, the middlemen and the processing plants, he believes compromise this quality and the reputation of the Bangladeshi industry with poor post-harvest practices. Despite this, he feels that for whatever reason, any responsibility or blame for a drop in the quality of the products is put on the farmers. To the european consumer of his shrimp he asks:

”Please, try to do anything to improve the shrimp markets and value chain system to recover the good will of the farmer.”

Oshri Mridha, 65 years old, is also a conventional shrimp farmer. He lives with his wife and family of his elder son in a small house deep in a gher area. His younger son now lives in the city to study. He changed from rice to shrimp production 30 years ago, because it was more profitable. He discovered by coincidence that shrimp grew perfectly in the pond of his rice field; they let in the river water and the shrimp entered. When they discovered that the market price for shrimp was very high, they caught the shrimp fry in the river and started to cultivate more and more. Now, they get the PL (Post Larvae) from a fry-catcher or a middleman, who brings them from a hatchery. Before shrimp farming he said he could not sustain his family, but now his income is sufficient to eat well and pay for the studies of his son. He still works in his field with the help of his son, and in the pond preparation they hire daily workers, both women and men. When there is any disease in the shrimp, it is difficult for the family to get enough food. The vegetables in the garden are hampered in their productivity because of the salinity of the area and the lack of grass makes it difficult to feed the goats. The salt affects also the house and he has to reconstruct the walls every year. He thinks that shrimp production is a good job, because in the region there is he believes no other practical way to have an income.

Their daughter-in-law prepares the food

The proud grandmother with her grandchild

Photo © Loni Hensler