EXPLOITING SHRIMP FARMING POTENTIAL OF BALOCHISTAN COAST
SYED FAZL-E-HAIDER, QUETTA
Aug 06 - 12, 2007
Today, shrimp farming is one of the fastest growing sectors of the entire aquaculture industry in the world. Balochistan has an ideal land and suitable conditions for shrimp farming. The province has immense potential for development of shrimp fishery in Sonmiani, Jewani, Kalmat, Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara and other coastal towns. There are greater prospects for generation of employment for local people, as a huge labor force may be required to run the shrimp farming units in coastal areas.
Shrimp farming is an export-oriented sector. The demand for quality shrimp worldwide is growing each year. The main buyers are USA, Japan, Gulf and European Union countries. According to an estimate, about three million tons of shrimps are globally produced every year in various types and species out of which around 50 percent come from the farms. Shrimp farming can bring huge export earnings for the country in view of increasing world demand for shrimps. An operational Gwadar port on Balochistan coast can help achieve the country its export targets in this sector.
The 770-km long Balochistan coast makes up 70 percent of Pakistan's total coastal line, which is the most productive marine ecosystem of the world. According to an estimate, 60 species of fish and 10 of shrimps, including the best in the world, are found in Balochistan. The land along coastal belt has enormous potential for development of shrimp farming and processing projects, which can play a vital role in fisheries development in the province. Shrimp farming can develop unproductive salty coastal areas of the province as centres of tremendous economic activity. It may bring economic bonanza for the people of coastal areas. The fish farming projects can improve the socio-economic conditions of the people and elevate their standard of living. These projects can not only earn huge foreign exchange for the country but also prosper the local fishermen by providing them a constant source of income.
The major producers of farmed shrimp include Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, China, India, Vietnam and Iran. Moreover, India and Bangladesh have successfully entered into the field of shrimp farming. The commoditization of farm-raised shrimp has made the competition tougher in world market. This commoditization led to consolidation within the industry as farms were forced to increase efficiencies through economies of scale. There is a need to grow quality shrimps at the farms meeting the international standards. Introduction to the modern technology and application of sophisticated techniques in the field must be the focus of economic planners involved in devising a pro-active strategy for capturing more market share of shrimp business in the global market.
The expansion and refinement of shrimp culture technologies have made possible the development of an environmentally and economically viable shrimp industry. Efforts should be made for setting up environment-friendly shrimp farms in Pakistan, as environmental deterioration in shrimp farms and coastal waters is a common evidence after intensive shrimp farming due to the accumulation of organic waste.
The economic planners should also devise the strategies for production of quality farm-raised shrimps and for exploitation of tremendous marketing opportunities in the today's world market which is characterized by strong product demand. Many seafood buyers worldwide recognize that the farm-raised product is superior to the wild product in many instances. This is due to the farmer's ability to freeze shrimp on-site within hours of the harvest, locking in the freshness. In light of this, tremendous marketing opportunities exist for premium quality farm-raised shrimp. The three major markets for farm-raised shrimp are the United States, Europe and Japan.
Shrimp farming on extensive level in Balochistan is currently under consideration of provincial government. Technical assistance from National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) may be sought in this regard. NIO was formed in 1981 with the aim of promoting research work on taking maximum advantage from marine resources. The institution has established a shrimp farm in Mir Pur Khas while another in Karachi that is functioning on experimental basis. The federal government recently decided to devise a pro-active strategy for capturing more market share of shrimp business in the global market by promoting shrimp farming along side the coastal line in Sindh and Balochistan. Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) and various government agencies involved with trade and industry are trying to chalk out a national road map to promote the shrimp farming in coastal areas of Pakistan.
Establishment of a dehydration plant in Balochistan is also under consideration of the federal government. It has promised to provide all necessary assistance and consultation facilities to government of Balochistan for fish farming particularly the shrimp farming in the province. It is a fact that development of shrimp fishery in coastal districts- Lasbela and Mekran will not be possible unless the federal government extends full assistance to the projects in this sector.
Balochistan government should allot lands in coastal districts to private parties interested in promoting shrimp farming in Pakistan. First of all, the potential of shrimp farming in coastal areas of the province should be assessed first. The necessary statistics and authentic data should be available that can ensure efficient exploitation of this valuable sea resource. The government should announce incentives for induction of the private sector in this field, as the interested entrepreneurs and investors can play a key role in promoting the shrimp farming in coastal areas purely on the commercial basis. New hatcheries should be set up in coastal districts like Lasbella and Mekran for shrimp production as viable business -ventures.
TOTAL FISHING CRAFT (NUMBERS)
Source: Fisheries Directorate, Pasni.
FISHING ON MAKRAN COAST ( in metric tons)
LOCAL CONSUMPTION QUANTITY
EXPORTABLE SURPLUS QUANTITY
Source: Fisheries Directorate, Pasni.