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China

Sino Agro, Freshwater Prawns, Production Delays,

Technical Problems and Criticism

 

Sino Agro Food’s plan to build the world’s largest freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) farm in China is far behind schedule due to a funding shortfall and technical issues related to farming prawns in intensive systems.

 

More than two years after Sino Agro announced it was three months from starting cultivation at its first phase, but the farm has still not harvested any freshwater prawns.

 

Cavernous warehouses filled with tanks with recirculated aquaculture systems (RAS) designed for freshwater prawns, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, are now growing lower-value species of fish, such as jade perch.

 

Solomon Lee, Sino Agro CEO, acknowledged the delays, but maintains that the technical issues with farming prawns “are fixable”.  He also asserted the project will still meet its prawn production targets though he did not say when.  Moreover, farming jade perch and other fish has “always been part of the business plan,” he said.

 

The delays and the technical challenges at the farm appear, for now, to validate a widely held industry view that Macrobrachium is ill-suited to intensive, high-density RAS farming.

 

Shrimp News: The above was just the very beginning of a November 17 report by Lewis Harkell that appeared on the Undercurrent News website.  I recommend that you click here to get the FREE, full copy of the report, which contains historical and financial information about Sino Agro and projections and discussion of farming prawns in intensive systems.

 

 

The Shrimp List Responds to the Undercurrent Report

Responding to Undercurrent’s story, Durwood Dugger made the following comments on The Shrimp List,a free mailing list for the shrimp farming community:

 

Sino Agro obviously failed to learn in advance and employ the basic biological, technical and economic information on Macrobrachium rosenbergii farming that has accumulated over the past 40 years of R&D, pilot and full-scale farming.

 

The Sino Agro folks aren’t experiencing new or unknown problems/limitations with Macrobrachium, or apparently applying new solutions (based on the excellent and detailed info and photos in the article).  Sino Agro has not re-invented the wheel; it has re-built a well-worn, square wheel.

 

The “sad” part is much if not all of this experience could have been avoided by better research.  Since many of those associated with the project are knowledgeable and experienced aquaculturists, we have to assume that corporate executive/investor decisions were made either without, or in spite, of their aquaculture expertise inputs—and, unfortunately, in my own experience, that scenario is not at all unusual in “big business”.

 

Responding to The Shrimp List to Durwood Dugger’s comments Jim Wyban, said: Durwood, your comments are spot on.  My reading of Sino’s press releases mostly evoked “insane”.  Chinese like to build huge projects, and Sino’s and Guolian Aquatics’ are both monsters.

 

At least Guolian picked the right species [Penaeus vannamei].  Based on how badly China’s shrimp industry is doing in general, I’m skeptical about its “new technology” working.  But wait, they’re gonna bring it to the USA.  We’ll see.

 

 

Sino Agro Food’s Response to the Undercurrent News Article

 

In a long response to the Undercurrent News report, Solomon Lee, CEO at Sino Agro, and Anthony Ostrowski, Chief Scientific Office at Sino Agro, argue that the delays were due to funding shortfalls and that the technical problems can be fixed.  Here are some excerpts from their argument.

 

Solomon Lee said, “Delays in farming Macrobrachium in the indoor tanks are due to delays in funding to complete the farm and modifications required in infrastructure we have already identified at this site.  We are, in fact, researching ways to increase density in our indoor tanks at the site now.”

 

Lee added, “We are currently researching the culture of Penaeus vannamei in our indoor recirculating system and have already grown them commercially in our outdoor RAS systems.”

 

Anthony Ostrowski thinks many changes can be made at the farm to improve production, including improved harvesting technology, growing all-male or all-female prawns, instituting a breeding program, using bioflocs and installing better water treatment systems.

 

Sources: 1. Undercurrent News (eight free news reads every month).  Editor, Tom Seaman (tom.seaman@undercurrentnews.com).  Two Years Late, No Shrimp Harvested Yet at Sino Agro’s Megafarm and Sino Agro: We Can Fix Problems Farming Freshwater Shrimp at Megafarm.  Louis Harkell (louis.harkell@undercurrentnews.com).  November 17, 2017.  2. The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Two Years Late, No Shrimp Harvested Yet at Sino Argo’s Megafarm, Undercurrent Article - by Louis Harkell.  Durwood Dugger (Email ddugger@biocepts.com).  November 17, 2017, and Jim Wyban (Email jim.wyban@gmail.com).  November 18, 2017.  3. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, November 18, 2017.

 

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