Shrimpers get crabby about EMS, low prices

Shrimpers get crabby about EMS, low prices

Call for price support, liquidity measures

Shrimp farmers sort out their produce in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Sam Roi Yod district in October 2010. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Shrimp farmers sort out their produce in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Sam Roi Yod district in October 2010. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Shrimp farmers are calling for urgent aid measures to ease their plight caused by the double blow of early mortality syndrome (EMS) and falling prices.

Representatives of 3,000 small shrimp farms, hatchery operators, processing factories and related industries led by Banchong Nisapavanich, chairman of the Thai Shrimp Farmers Federation, and Somsak Paneetatyasai, president of the Thai Shrimp Association, filed a request letter yesterday with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

They have asked his administration to help stabilise the local white shrimp or vannamei prices, ease financial liquidity for exporters, tackle the early mortality syndrome, and list shrimp on the national agenda, meaning the industry is worthy of special treatment and care from authorities.

The coalition also called on the government to work out measures to control the appreciation of the baht in order to increase Thai shippers export competitiveness.

Mr Banchong said 80% of the shrimp farmers are small-scale and are being hammered by falling shrimp prices and EMS.

Domestic shrimp prices were quoted at 98 baht for 100 head/kilogramm-size shrimp last week, down from 100 baht for the same size during the same period last year. The local shrimp price crested to 200 baht for 100 head/kg-size at times last year.

Mr Somsak said Thailand's shrimp industry would surely lose more market share if the problems continued to plague the farmers.

EMS was first detected on a shrimp farm in China in 2009, then moved through Vietnam before reaching Thailand in mid-2012.

The outbreak has severely damaged the Thai shrimp industry and exports of related products.

Before the disease, Thailand produced 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes of shrimp annually.

EMS slashed Thailand's shrimp output to only 250,000 tonnes last year. Shrimp exports fell accordingly to 160,000 tonnes in 2014, down from 190,000 the year before.

Thailand's shrimp exports totalled 427,000 tonnes in 2010 and 392,000 tonnes in 2011.

Mr Somsak said production may recover to 300,000 tonnes this year, but only if Thailand can tackle the spectre of EMS.

"Shrimp and shrimp products are one of the country's leading export products, with local raw materials accounting for more than 90% of their production. The industry creates a number of jobs and generates about 100 billion baht worth of income a year to the country, so we feel the government should utilise better management and treatment of the industry," he said.

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