Shrimp producers' group is certain that Fairtrade label contributes to make products more competitive. (Photo: Fairtrade/FIS)
Fairtrade shrimp practices expand
Monday, August 15, 2011, 23:20 (GMT + 9)
A shrimp farmers' cooperative in Prachuap Khiri Khan province may acquire credentials from the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations (FLO) International in 2012 and thus broaden their exposure.
The group was created so as to farm shrimp by means of environmentally-friendly methods. At present, it is expected that the Fairtrade label, awarded by a global organisation that campaigns for better circumstances for farmers and workers in developing countries, enhances its position.
"Bio-shrimp farming applies an environmentally friendly raising model in which natural substances are used to prevent diseases and promote growth," explained Decha Banluedet, chairman of the Samroi Yod-Pran Buri Shrimp Raisers Cooperative.
Decha noted that this farming method keeps polluted water from draining out into the environment, which also makes it socially responsible. Farmers use gutweed (Enteromorpha intestinalis) to absorb waste and help improve water quality, Bangkok Post reports.
"Farmers have to check water quality regularly and draining dirty water is prohibited," the chaiman added.
FLO certification entails fair practices among members too.
Created in 2008 to pioneer bio-shrimp farming, the cooperative has got technical assistance from various agencies such as the Fisheries Department, and operates by four main rules: sustainable growth, harmony with nature, environmental friendliness and community responsibility.
Farmers use beneficial bacteria to prepare ponds and water and add bio-fertilisers to promote natural food sources such as plankton. To reduce stress on shrimp, farmers tend to harvest fewer fry in a pond.
Also, pre-and pro-biotic beneficial bacteria are added to feedmeal for disease prevention and to encourage growth.
Decha said the extra work breeds generous returns: high survival rates of up to 80 per cent and larger shrimp of around 50 head a kg for a shorter rearing period -- only 90-100 days versus the usual 110. Bio-shrimp also sell for THB 10-THB 15 (USD 0.33 – USD 0.49) a kg higher than other shrimp.
The operation’s success has helped the cooperative expand from 52 to 200 farmers. It now produces about 100 tonnes of bio-shrimp yearly and sells it to local cold storage companies for export to Marks & Spencer in the UK.
Decha expects the Fairtrade label will encourage more farmers to turn to bio-farming.
The National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) is now setting criteria for certifying bio-shrimp farms. It will cover farm management, water and farming methods and will become a national standard soon.
Said rules have already been tested at farms in Trang, Songkhla, and by the Samroi Yod-Pran Buri Cooperatives. ACFS certification will help farmers enter the high-end retail segment and access health-conscious consumers.
Meanwhile, the Fisheries Department says shrimp exports have yielded nearly THB 100 billion (USD 3.3 billion) in revenue, and officials believe the European and US economic meltdowns will not strongly dampen exports, as demand remains high, TanNetwork reports.
By Natalia Real