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Can Production Problems Be Resolved with Imported Broodstock?
Foreign companies are selling more broodstock to China than ever before, but, as Chinese shrimp farmers begin to stock their ponds for this year’s shrimp production season, many farmers still worry about low-quality shrimp larvae, while others say foreign broodstock won’t be the answer for China’s shrimp production problems.
In 2017, Chinese shrimp production is expected to be similar to last year’s production, according to Siam Canadian Group, a Thailand-based shrimp supplier that also operates in China. Siam Canadian said that key production challenges—land rent increases, disease, industrial pollution, poor quality shrimp larvae and larvae feed, typhoons and flooding—would prevent an improvement on last year’s production.
Cui He, head of the China Aquatic Products Processing and Manufacturing Alliance, was less sure. He recently told Undercurrent News that disease and weather were too unpredictable to make forecasts worthwhile. There’s also a dispute over last year’s shrimp production, which he said increased by around 5% compared to 2015—citing a 5% increase in shrimp feed sales—contrary to reports of decreased production in 2016 due to a disastrous autumn harvest.
Consequently, this year’s Chinese Penaeus vannamei production could be anywhere from the official figure of 1.6 million metric tons to just 600,000 tons, forecast recently at the Global Seafood Market Conference in San Francisco, California, USA, in January 2017.
A Chinese media report indicated increased dissatisfaction among Chinese shrimp farmers. As Chinese farmers begin to stock their ponds for this year’s harvest, many worry about their future in the sector. Presently their most immediate concern is the poor quality of shrimp larvae.
Weather permitting, Chinese shrimp farmers typically aim to stock ponds as soon after Chinese New Year (January 28, 2017) as possible.
“From the biggest industrial farm to the smallest backyard pond, Chinese shrimp farmers worry about shrimp larvae quality,” reported Shuichan, an industry publication. “The quality of shrimp larvae in China is not consistent. Quality can differ even in the same batch. This means some shrimp larvae do better than others in the same area, under the same conditions.”
Chinese farmers are buying shrimp larvae in a chaotic marketplace, said Shuichan, with hundreds of hatcheries selling animals of varying quality. Many farmers say they choose their product based on a seller’s character, more than anything else. Others say getting good larvae is “blind luck”. Diseases during growout are a major problem. “People are looking for answers. Some blame the broodstock; some blame Chinese shrimp larvae firms. Others blame the water in which shrimp larvae are cultivated. Everyone has an opinion,” said Shuichan.
More and more foreign companies are marketing broodstock in China. The biggest are Charoen Pokphand Group, Shrimp Improvement Systems (SIS), Kona Bay Marine Resources, Primo Broodstock, Blue Genetics, Molokai Sea Farms, Syaqua and Indonesia’s Global Gen. They claim their genetically-selected, specific-pathogen-free (SPF) shrimp are disease resistance and tailored to local conditions. Last year, according to the International Trade Center, they exported around $28.8 million worth of broodstock to China, an increase of 20%, compared to 2015.
Global Blue Technology (GBT), a Texas/USA producer of broodstock, visited Chinese hatcheries in Zhanjiang, Guangdong, in January 2017. Stephen White, CEO of GBT, told Undercurrent News that it aims to have broodstock available on the market in China by the third quarter of 2017. Imported broodstock from the likes of Global Blue is expensive—one shrimp can cost $58, according to Chinese media. Consequently, according to local reports, Chinese hatcheries frequently mix imported broodstock with other broodstock, or breed larvae from broodstock beyond their effective lifespan, which reduces the overall quality of the shrimp larvae.
Some even speculate that imported broodstock carries disease. Shrimp Improvement Systems lost its leading market position—the Hawaii-based firm reportedly had a 70% market share at one point—after farmers complained its broodstock yielded poor results. Meanwhile, last year CP Group stopped selling broodstock in China altogether. While foreign broodstock firms are bringing in expertise and resources, they won’t be the answer to China’s shrimp problems.
Source: Undercurrent News [Imported Broodstock No Panacea for China’s Shrimp Production Problems. Louis Harkell (firstname.lastname@example.org). March 17, 2017.. Editor, Tom Seaman.
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