Day 1 23rd November

Day 1 Loni’s Blog Friday 23rd Nov: Arrival 2012

Yesterday night I arrived in Khulna, in the south-west of Bangladesh. A huge statue of a shrimp symbolizes the importance of the shrimp sector for this city and the country; farmed seafood is the second largest export industry right behind clothing and contributes to 5% of the national GDP and Khulna is the biggest of the three regions where Shrimp is produced. This statue seems to welcome me to the research I am going to do here, following the Value Chain of organic shrimp steered by the main question whether organic shrimp production in Bangladesh presents a way of ethical consumption or not.

During a delicious Bengal dinner one of the Bangladesh SEAT staff they introduced me to the diverse issues related to shrimp production. A broad set ranging from environmental degradation, to food security (because former rice land is used for the shrimp production), and social questions of low salaries and insecurities due to changing demands and disease outbreaks amongst the shrimp in the ponds. Especially interesting are these problems in the broader context of Bangladesh, as the country with the highest population density in the world, is especially threatened by climate change and with a large number of people below the poverty line.
In the following two weeks as I travel around the region I will try to explore these issues and different perspectives on these shrimp farming systems and associated value chains.. Whereas conventional farming is widely discussed, “organic” shrimp farming claims to provide a sustainable alternative because of an environmental friendly production with higher income for the farmer. Therefore, I will especially focus my research on the organic shrimp farming, their opportunities and limits, as well as advantages and disadvantages compared to the conventional shrimp farming.

Today (Friday 23rd November) I mainly organized the places and persons I will meet over the following two weeks and I visited the nearby prawn and shrimp market, where I also saw my first Bangladesh shrimp. The market has got a very interesting system: farmers bring their prawn/shrimp here and bargain with the salesmen who charge a fee (e.g. 2 % of the price) and then sell them to the Middlemen from the processing plant. From here the shrimp are stored with ice and transported to the processing plant. It is a really lively atmosphere in the market: people are bargaining, shouting, showing their freshwater prawns and shrimp, selling, buying, sorting the shrimp and everywhere on the ground are claws from the freshwater prawns.

I am already truly impressed by the amount of hands and lives being included in the production of aquaculture products, even though I have only just seen a very small part of the whole value chain.

SEAT is also on daily updated Facebook site

Photo © Loni Hensler