Days 5-6 27th-28th November: First taste of Shrimp and watching”organic” shrimp harvest

27th November
I got the possibility to taste my first shrimp. I definitely liked it, especially the spicy and tasty way in which it was prepared…but I could not manage to eat the head. In Bangladesh the shrimp is consumed without any processing, which means that they eat it with everything – the head, the shell and the feet!

28th November First impressions from “the field”

Yesterday night I arrived in Kaliganj, a small town close to the Indian border, after the most dangerous three-hour car ride of my life. The roads here are in bad condition and used by all kinds of transport, ranging from rickshaws, to cars, trucks and buses. Today I left the house at about 6 in the morning to see the shrimp harvest in the organic shrimp fields. Shrimp are always harvested early in the morning, because otherwise they would leave the traps. The manager of the Organic Shrimp Project (OSP), the organic smallholder project I am visiting, explained to me that shrimp farming is not the appropriate word for the diversity grown in the ponds, ranging from crabs and small insects, to a variety of fish. Some of these find their way naturally into the ponds and some are stocked and ongrown deliberately. The small pond-life serves as natural feed to the shrimp, and the bigger species like fish and crab are used for family consumption or sold in the local market. As the farmer showed me their harvest and sorted the different species, I got a little insight in this diversity.

Sorting the species and preparation for transport

From Harvest to Processing – The Organic Value Chain
After the collection of the shrimp from the traps, the farmer sorts the different species. In the organic value chain the harvested shrimp are put into an insulated container with ice and falls asleep to rest at 0-5 C. From here the shrimp is brought directly to a collection center, supervised by internal inspectors. Here it is where parts of the shrimp are removed, then they are sorted in size, weighed, iced again and the price is documented with the farmers’ identification number. The price is fixed for every harvest time (new/fullmoon), calculated on the basis of the international organic shrimp price. The shrimp is then transported directly in a truck to the nearby processing plant, where it gets processed the same day. The producing shrimp farmer gets their payment within 2-3 days.

Transportation to the Collection Center

Collection Center

Price documentation at the Collection Center

In the afternoon I got the chance to join a meeting for a community of conventional farmers that is now interested in organic shrimp production. It was interesting to see that there is a lot of interest, but at the same time skepticism. They are afraid that the consumer will stop buying their products if they cannot increase their quality.

Photo © Loni Hensler