Challenges in Shrimp Farming
Whether you are growing flowers, cultivating wheat or breeding cattle, every single farming industry has its challenges. So does shrimp aquaculture. Black Tiger and Vannamei both being our main products, we would like to give you some insights of how complex farming can be, depending on several elements.
Which elements makes shrimp farming challenging?
As a good start is a blessing for the entire aquaculture process, the quality of the post larvae (baby shrimp) is utmost important. Where pl used to come from wild catch (in some countries it still does), these days they derive from broodstock; a group of mature female shrimps. Eventually the best pl are being selected before proceeding towards the next step in the chain. The less quality, the less resistance.
Furthermore, maintaining the quality of the circumstances in which the baby shrimp is being raised, pond management, is also of major importance. This includes water quality, feed quality, pond location, oxygen level, and workforce capability.
An un-manageable component that influences the complexity of shrimp farming is climate change. As with every living creature, shrimp grows best in an optimal living environment; right water temperature and biological characteristics, as well as ideal weather conditions. For instance, shrimps dislike cyclones and high droughts (circumstances where the salinity increases) which results in a poorer product outcome.
Other two elements are the type of system and type of farming which are different for every single farmer and usually country. A more vertically integrated system supports the easiness of farming, whereas a more fragmented system tends to make farming more challenging. Depending on the type of farming (intensive, semi-intensive and extensive), farmers either feed their shrimp or not. Bangladesh for instance, is known for its extensive way of farming where the density is approximately 3 shrimps per m2 and thus have enough space to find food. Vietnam is known for intensive farming where the density is approximately 200 to 300 shrimps per m2 which makes it difficult to find food and are thus being fed. Both higher density and food are 2 different elements that can make farming complex; high density rate results in a higher chance of diseases and fishmeal means providing a manufactured ingredient and thus concerns quality. Insects might be the future.
An external factor that makes shrimp farming more challenging is the end-consumer who is increasingly more demanding about:
- Social Compliance of the farmer and its stakeholders. An example is fishmeal which partly consists of small fishes coming from marine fishery that involves slavery
- Traceability; towards farm, broodstock or even “mother shrimp” for which IdentiGEN has developed a certain traceability platform called DNA TraceBack
Another external factor that makes shrimp farming more complicated is the Changing Regulatory Environment. A good example is disallowing antibiotics. Especially farmers who do not have all elements “on track” will be affected by such regulation.
-1 + -1 = -2
The more elements of less quality, the higher risk of mortality and diseases, the more difficult it is to predict the outcome and thus further farming & production planning.
It can be concluded that farming is a vibrant “sector”. It is constantly being challenged by external factors, manageable and un-manageable elements and therefore a continuous developing industry with the aim to reduce and even tackle the above-mentioned challenges, meanwhile reaching productivity in an efficient, profitable, and sustainable way. So-called Specific Pathogen Free shrimp genetics in the form of broodstock and post larvae are contributing towards minimizing the challenges of shrimp farming.