Day 8 1st December Visit to Shrimp Hatcheries …. One in a million …..

Today I visited an organic and conventional hatchery, the place where the shrimp eggs are grown to the post-larvae (PL) stage. They have a system of different tanks for water treatment, the growth of algae and plankton to feed the small naupli (the first stage after hatching) and different ponds for the different growth stages of the larvae, where oxygen is also provided.

Manager of the Hatchery with ponds for growth of algae

Both conventional and organic PL are produced at this same hatchery, but clearly separated as well as controlled and certified. The main difference is that no chemicals or medicines are used for the organic production; only natural inputs. The price of the organic PL is higher because they take longer to grow. Here a little Shrimp, like Bangli, seems to be quite impersonal, just one of millions… From here he passes through middlemen to the nursery where he acclimatizes to the local water and is distributed to the farmers, ready to give him his own personal story. In the Organic Shrimp Project the Collection Center collects the order from the farmer in advance, then collects the PL and distributes the PL to the farmer.

Conventional Nursery, with the nursery owner

PL at the nursery, ready for transportation to the farm

Getting prepared for Europe
In the afternoon I visited the processing plant of the Organic Shrimp Project (OSP). Here it gets cold. The shrimp are sorted by an automatic machine, their heads are removed with the help of workers (mainly female), they are washed, gutted and cleaned inside, frozen, packed and stored…ready for shipment. Two very friendly and well-informed guides explained everything to us, and we had also the possibility of partaking in a quality test, which includes tasting the shrimp. I am not a shrimp expert, but it tasted as good as the fresh ones. Beside the taste quality test, a lot of scientific tests are made continuously and no ship can leave without good results. From here the shrimp stay continuously at -18 C. As it was not possible to enter a conventional processing plant, I cannot compare the quality and working conditions, but I have heard from various sources that the processing plant I saw is of the highest standard, which reminded me of a European hospital.
The processing and the shipment is the last step in the Bangladesh part of the shrimp value chain. All the steps I have seen and the persons I have talked to lead me to two main conclusions: first the OSP does it’s best to provide high quality, environmentally-friendly shrimp in all the steps of the value chain; and second all the actors along the value-chain, together with their individual stories and personalities, lends Bangladeshi shrimp a special character for me. Over the following days I will talk to some of the farmers along this chain, who give the product a face, and investigate the social and economic aspects of organic shrimp production for them, in comparison to their situation with conventional shrimp before.

Preparing the shrimp at the processing plant

Automatic shrimp processing; washed shrimp ready for freezing

The guide explaining how shrimp are processed in the processing plant

The last step before the shrimp are stored at -18C: packing

Shrimp quality test – the color is good, isn’t it?

Photo © Loni Hensler