Urgency to boost export-oriented production through modern fish farming

Fishermen catch fishes in the breeding pond. Photo: MNA
Fishermen catch fishes in the breeding pond. Photo: MNA

By Than Htike

While the nation is striving more for the development of fish and fishery production sector, the Department of Fisheries and the Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) are trying their best as a means of earning foreign currencies annually through export.
Recently, two fish processing plants have been granted licences to export fish products to the European Union. Over the years, export demand from Saudi Arabia has tumbled since the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) suspended temporarily fish and prawn imports from Vietnam, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India.
After inspections are carried out by Saudi Arabia, Myanmar will be able to resume its fish export which had been suspended. Saudi Arabia has sent the necessary checklists to Myanmar Fisheries Department in April to allow farmed fishes export from Myanmar.
Based as agricultural economy, the country is opening up and inviting investment in the industrial sector, and that the opportune time has come as foreign countries are willing to buy Myanmar’s fish and fishery products, indicating socio-economic development of the people in the fishing industry.

Awareness Talks
Just days before, the Myanmar Fisheries Federation had come to its 20th annual meeting which was held on 12 and 13 May 2019 at Myanmar Fisheries Federation in Insein Township. The meeting was attended by the Union Minister for the ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Irrigation and several other related officials from both government and private sectors. To improve fishery industry, the meeting undertook steps to modernize the industry and spread the awareness on fisheries products to the public and the federation also organized displaying of fishery products and other related products.

Modern Fish Farming
In most countries of the world, the population consumes fish through slicing and cutting rather than the whole fish, and that the packaging of the fish meat is well prepared in advanced using better methods for commercial purpose. Therefore, in catching up in line with the world standard, Myanmar needs to transform the old traditional fish farming system into modern paradigm.
Farming ponds should be deep, not shallow, with more number of fish breeding through easy water drainage and also replacing with new water. In place of old customary rice and bran fish feeds, modern method should be changed by providing them with feed pellets and water-floating meals.
In the development of modern aquaculture, starting in the 1970s, fishmeal and fish oil were key components of the feeds for these species. They are combined with other ingredients such as vegetable proteins, cereal grains, vitamins and minerals and formed into feed pellets.
Reform and change of fish farming methods are needed to catch up and compete with other countries, and therefore, in boosting fish and fishert products, modern and harmonized system should be introduced in the country.

Production of modern fish feeds
In many countries exporting fish and fishery products, including Vietnam, the floating fish feed pellets are used for fish. In fresh water fish breeding, floating fish feed pellets bring advantages to the fish farmers.
Commercial fish diets can be classified into floating (extruded) or traditional sinking (pressure-pelleted) pellets. Both floating and sinking feeds are in use.
With a view to exporting fish in the international market, the fish feed pellets are very much vital in fish farming, and that fish breeders are necessary to consider seriously in this regard. Despite the demand is high, however, in Myanmar, the number of fish feed pellet producing mills and factories is very few. Modern machinery is required in the production of fish feed pellets, and therefore, mills and factories in Yangon imported related parts from abroad and running the production of fish diet.
Some European countries have established factories in Thailand and produced fish feeds and exported to Myanmar market. Meanwhile, Myanmar industrialists are functioning factories in the industrial zones and producing fish feed pellets, but the products are still inadequate.

Fish farmers conduct the breeding practices in their farm at Kattalu Village in Kouthoung.  Photo: Kyaw Soe (Kouthoung)
Fish farmers conduct the breeding practices in their farm at Kattalu Village in Kouthoung.  Photo: Kyaw Soe (Kouthoung)

Chemical free fish feeds
Since 2005, a pilot project of fish feeds production was established in Yangon and that in 2016, the production capacity had turned out 10 tons in three lines and 5 tons in one line, with 35 tons of production in one hour, amassing in 500 tons in one day.
In Hline Thayar Industrial Zone and Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone, the fish feeds are rolling out by the factories owned by nationals and also by foreign owned factories. The feeds are supplying daily to the fish farms in Yangon Region, Ayeyarwady Region, Bago Region, Tanintharyi Region, and Rakhine State.
The majority of the fish farmers are feeding the tradition old types of fish diet, resulting with poor quality and making the sales down. Therefore, chemical free fish feeds are required to use in the farming.

Fish quality might slide down
U Zaw Lin, Factory Director of Htoo Thit Fish Feed Pellet Industry said that their factory is producing floating fish feeds 500 tons each day according to needs, however, 15 more factories are needed to construct.
The main need of the fish feed factory are raw materials such as that of the rice and the bran to produce oil. In the backdrop of high price of raw materials year on year, it is needed to import 65 per cent of oil from foreign market.
In many countries, modern fish feeds are made by grinding and mixing together ingredients such as fishmeal, vegetable proteins and binding agents such as wheat. Water is added and the resulting paste is extruded through holes in a metal plate.
For the development fish farming, the fish feeds played a vital role of 70 per cent, and therefore, fine raw stuff are vital for the industry, making a true necessary alliance and partnership between the Department of Agriculture and the fish breeders.
Gradually as the quality control is being maintained, the production of fish feeds is successful, and it is advisable to establish and expand more factories in this regards. The breeders should shift from old traditional fish feeds made of rice and bran to modern fish feeds namely floating feeds or sinking feeds. Despite the potential success in farming is quite possible, the inevitable task to reduce the cost of overall operation is unavoidable, resulting with the poor quality of fish.

Could export at any time
The writer of this article wishes for the entire success of the fisheries industry including fish feed production. With the assistance and aid of the government, combined with the skills and labor of the professionals, the fisheries business people, and the fish breeders must work together so as to catch up with other countries.
In Myanmar, there are 5 factories producing fish feed pellets, and that more mills and factories are needed. Despite the fish breeding sphere is large, the number and functioning of fish feed factories is small.
The old traditional fish feeding habits must be overcome, and that is why awareness raising and knowledge sharing programs are imparted and provided.
The instability of fish market, compounded with the imbalance production of fish feeds and the instable trends are pushing away the modern system and culture of feeding pellet diets. The fish farming industry needs investment and time, and therefore, all the stakeholders must come together and lend hands to the fish breeders so as to make the nation to be able to export fish and fishery products to foreign countries.

Sharing information
U Zaw Lin added that the feeding of floating feed pellets bring the advantages such as that of the water to be more stable and more durable in the breeding pond, that of reducing the cost of changing water in the pond, that of the less wastage of fish feeds, that of the finer transformation of meat from diet, (Feed Conversion Ratio), that of finer health of the fish, that of bringing more advantages to the fish breeders, and that all these developments depend mainly on the fish feed manner by supporting 70 per cent in this industry.

Offering good Prospects
Beginning 2018, the export of fish and fishery products is moving in the upswing, and that the existing trend is to be maintained in keeping that of fine operational cold storages; that of the better packaging; and that of fine quality fish. The best way to keep fine quality fish is to feed them with appropriate fish feeds, and it is therefore, advisable in establishing more fish feed factories in the country similar to other neighboring countries, with a view to strive more exports on fish and fishery products through modern fish farming methods. Translated by UMT (Ahlon)

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