The Myanmar Shrimp Association has managed to plug the shortage in the supply of freshwater prawn post larvae, which had seen a decline over the last five years, said U Tin Tun Oo, joint secretary 1 of the association.
“At present, there are six hatcheries that can harvest about 6 million freshwater prawn larvae every month. Therefore, cultivation of profitable prawns needs to increase for both domestic and export markets,” he said.
“Earlier, we faced difficulties in prawn farming owing to inadequate supply of prawn larvae. Some enthusiastic breeders imported post larvae from Thailand, but only half of them survived well. Now, local hatcheries can fulfill the supply requirements and allow local breeders to maximize farming operations,” he added.
Freshwater prawn post larvae were imported from Thailand and post larvae production started in 2017, leading to self-sufficiency in supply for local breeders, he said.
Freshwater prawns have a huge demand from domestic seafood restaurants as well as in the export market, so, they were farmed on a large scale in the 2000s. There were over 20 prawn hatcheries in 2012, with a production capacity of about 300 million prawn larvae per year. Unfortunately, there was an outbreak of disease in 2013 and 2015. Only 3 million larvae were produced then. Thereafter, larvae producers and suppliers suffered losses, with some even losing their capital. During this difficult period, some breeders harvested larvae brought in from Thailand.
The production of freshwater prawn larvae is now expected to increase up to 20 million per month, and prices of post larvae may see a decline, said U Tin Tun Oo.
“Breeders currently purchase only half of what they produce. The greater the demand for larvae, the higher will be the production. The freshwater prawn farming industry will see progress. But, we need to change rearing techniques. Earlier, freshwater prawn production lasted eight months. But post larvae from Thailand can be harvested twice a year,” he said.
The price of a single freshwater prawn post larva of Myanmar origin has declined from Ks30 to Ks29, while the price of larva of Thailand origin has dipped from Ks15 to Ks13, he said.
Local production of freshwater prawns can fulfill 70 per cent of the market’s demand, while the remaining 30 per cent depends on imports from Thailand. Eighty per cent of tiger prawn and white leg shrimps, which are in high demand locally, are imported from Thailand.
It is a good sign for the prawn farming industry that freshwater prawn larvae production businesses are operational again, he said. Freshwater prawn suppliers and businesses need to build a close network to ensure self-sufficiency and to penetrate export markets, he added.
Myanmar has around 200,000 acres of saltwater prawn farms, but only 20,000 acres of freshwater prawn farms. The freshwater prawn farms are located in Twantay, Nyaungton, Kayan, Htantabin, and Maubin townships. The Bago Region also has small-acre freshwater prawn farms.
The global demand for freshwater prawns stands at 500,000 tons, yet supply meets only 400,000 tons. This being so, there is potential for export of freshwater prawns, U Tin Tun Oo said. For prawn farming businesses to raise their heads again, funds pose a challenge, he added.
By May Thet Hnin
(Translated by Ei Myat Mon)