September 10, 2012
Adenugba (firstname.lastname@example.org): Is there is a farm/organization in Thailand that offers training in shrimp farming?
Muhammad (email@example.com): I would like recommendations on a training course/program that would give me the basics to start a small-scale shrimp farm with an initial investment between $20,000 and $100,000. I don’t have and previous experience in aquaculture, but I do have a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, and most of my work concerns clean water systems, so I should be familiar with many shrimp farming concepts.
I found a training program from the Asian Institute of Technology through “The Shrimp List”, but it seems to be geared towards more advanced students.
Through Google, I found a training program at Vannamei 101 that could get me started. It recommends a two-week program. Is that enough time for the fundamentals I need?
Also, there is a five-day training program offered by Texas Sea Grant, but five days seems a little short to me. On the other hand, I would prefer to attend a program in the United States because English is my first language.
I assume that I will learn the most when I start my own farm, but it might be nice to have some guidelines before I start. Thanks for reading this, and I will appreciate any advice and direction you might provide.
Sirintip Dangtip (firstname.lastname@example.org): The Shrimp Biotechnology Business Unit (SBBU), BIOTEC, Thailand, would like to invite you to the International Training Course on Biology and Pathology of Penaeid Shrimp that begins on Monday, October 8, 2012, at Center of Excellence for Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Centex Shrimp), Chalearmprakiat Building, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama 6 Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.
This training course will be conducted in English, and it is designed for postgraduate students engaged in research and for others who might be interested. Expert lecturers from the Mahidol University and from other Thai universities and institutes engaged in research on the giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) will conduct daily sessions for three hours in the morning followed by practical sessions in the afternoon. There will be a one-day field trip to a shrimp hatchery and shrimp farm.
The lectures will cover the life cycle, anatomy, physiology and immunology of the giant tiger shrimp, including information on the nature and diagnosis of all major pathogens. The practical sessions focus on shrimp anatomy and on techniques for disease monitoring and diagnosis, ranging from gross observation to light and transmission electron microscopy and advanced molecular biology techniques.
The registration fee, which does not include bank charges, is $1,200 for international participants. All payments must be made in advance. If fewer than 30 people register, the course will be canceled, and your registration fee will be refunded. To submit your application, please email your desire to attend to one of the following email addresses email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com by September 14, 2012.
Regis Bador (firstname.lastname@example.org): Hi Muhammad, I highly recommend the Vannamei 101 course. The instructors there know what they are talking about and can adapt their teaching to any level of trainee.
Nelson Gerundo (email@example.com): Hi Muhammad, I second the above motion, and can confirm that the AIT course is also great!
If you are still young, just take your time. My advice is to get the feel of shrimp production by enrolling in a shrimp seminar or workshop. Meet people and listen to qualified trainers.
It’s not all about money and business. You’ve got to love aquaculture. You can get a feel for it by attending a seminar or training course, but make sure you’re dealing with a team of scientist and professionals that know what they are talking about.
If you are anywhere near the United States, the Texas Sea Grant Program is great as well.
I have met people in my country who started small backyard farms and hatcheries with very little capital, and they are humbly doing well and happy with their lives. Most of them attended training seminars and workshops sponsored by government and non-government organizations.
Durwood Dugger (firstname.lastname@example.org): Hi Muhammad, Shrimp training courses can be a great way of accumulating a lot information in a short period of time, but they aren’t meant to be a real world experience, rather an adjunct to one. Before you make a serious personal investment, or even a career commitment to work in this industry, I strongly suggest that you either intern (minimum of 90 days), or work at a successful shrimp farm. From a former shrimp farm employer’s perspective, I can tell you it takes at least two years to develop a fully capable (starting from college) employee for a position of responsibility on a commercial shrimp farm.
If you really want to fortify yourself with the other half (the evil twin) of shrimp farming, I suggest you also spend some time working with a shrimp marketing/distribution company, ideally in the local or regional market where you expect to sell your shrimp. Doing these two things will give you a sound basis in the real world challenges and opportunities of shrimp farming and an understanding of the basic economics of not only shrimp production, but also of costs, sales, marketing and distribution.
After 40 plus years in the industry and doing hundreds of technical audits for shrimp producers, the single most common cause of failure was not technology per say, but the lack of a thorough understanding of the economic realities of the business.
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com):
1. One cannot survive on love alone.
2. The quickest way to make a small fortune in aquaculture is start with a large one.
3. Marketing is expensive and time consuming and almost no one budgets enough for this. It takes a minimum of three to five years to market a new product in any kind of quantity unless your pricing undercuts or your quality exceeds everyone else’s.
4. The main risks in aquaculture are: (a) not having enough capital (you should have enough for three complete crop failures and still continue with your plan), (b) not having a market (if by the grace of God, you are successful in raising crops, turning those crops into cash is whole ‘nother challenge), and (c) not having the correct system for your knowledge, experience and/or specific location (what works in Thailand may not work in the United States).
If I were to start all over again, I would work for a seafood marketing company first, while I continued to study shrimp farming. Before I ever produced a single animal, I would buy from other producers and process and sell their products as my own brand.
Again, the time and money required to market a new product are almost never budgeted or planned accurately.
Alain Michel (firstname.lastname@example.org): That’s a good philosophy, Daniel, but it’s more fun and challenging on the farming side than the marketing side. But I agree totally, somebody should have a lot of reserve money before they decide to launch a new project.
Muhammad (email@example.com): Everybody—thanks for the responses! This was extremely informative, especially to someone new to the industry.
Here are my takeaways:
1. Make sure you understand all aspects of the industry before diving in. Explore not just the production side of it, but the marketing/sales side as well because having great quality shrimp is irrelevant if no one wants to buy it.
2. Don’t expect to become a shrimp farming expert in two weeks. Take your time, learn from experts, and fall in love with the craft.
I have an academic background in science, but my professional career has been in the business world (educational and entrepreneurial projects). I am young (I think 26 is still considered young although I feel old), so I have time to learn this craft. I’m in Morocco now, and I’ve raised the funds for a large-ish (greater than $1 million) investment, and I don’t believe I can become an expert overnight. I’ve bought my ticket to Corpus Christi to meet the folks at the Texas Sea Grant Course and will decide on my next steps after that.
Assuming I’m not just turned off by aquaculture, where do you think it’s best to get experience, working in the industry or working on a research team? The stacked raceway system Dr. Addison Lawrence has developed seems very interesting.
Granvil Treece (firstname.lastname@example.org): Registration for the Texas A&M University Sea Grant College Program’s 27th Annual Texas Shrimp Farming and Marine Finfish Culture Short Course (September 26 to October 2, 2012) will close on Thursday, September 20, 2012. Course reviews have been excellent and participants learn a lot about marine shrimp and finfish farming in a short time through lectures and field trips to commercial farms and processing plants. An extended (more intense), “hands on” course is also offered at both the TAMU aquaculture research facilities in the Corpus Christi area with up to three weeks of intensive training possible. For information on registration, fees, program and the field trip, CLICK HERE.
Sources: 1. The Shrimp List. Subjects: (1) Training in Thailand, (2) The International Training Course and (3) Training Programs. April 13 to September 4, 2012. 2. Email from Granvil Treece to Shrimp News International. Subject: Re: Training Programs for Beginning Shrimp Farmers. September 11, 2012. 3. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, September 10, 2012.