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White leg or black tiger shrimp?   2009-03-05 - VietNamNet/TP

Vietnamese farmers are rushing to farm white leg shrimp instead of black tiger shrimp, Vietnam’s traditional export. Experts have warned about the high risks of the movement.




The shrimp pond in Soc Trang province has become the playing field for children

In the context of the economic recession, the world now tends to consume less big-size expensive shrimp and more small-size cheap shrimp. This is why people believe that it is now the time to move to white leg shrimp rearing, as it has a shorter farming period, thus bringing more profit more quickly.


Under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MARD) plan, in 2009, Cuu Long River Delta provinces will get some 100,000 tonnes of white leg shrimp, or 26.3% of the total brackish water shrimp output.


However, the problem is that farmers are now aping one another in hatching shrimp, with many shrimp ponds being located in non-programmed areas. In Tra Vinh province, for example, over 50mil while leg shrimp have been hatched in the water area of 71 ha. Only 20 ha of these shrimp ponds are located in programmed areas, which bring the turnover of VND80mil/ha/crop.  Meanwhile, the other ponds are being farmed haphazardly by farmers without any programming and under bad irrigation conditions.




Epidemics, especially taura disease, prove to be the biggest threat for white leg shrimp hatching.


Duyen Hai district in Tra Vinh province in the Cuu Long River Delta now only has 20 of 53.2 ha of shrimp ponds bringing profit. Lam Minh The, Head of the Duyen Hai Agriculture and Rural Development Sub-department, said that Cuu Long River Delta now has to hatch shrimp with breeders from the central region. The best shrimp breeders stay in the central region, while lower-quality breeders are moving to the Cuu Long River Delta, creating more risks of epidemics.


Meanwhile, it is very difficult to control the quality of shrimp breeders being imported to the provinces, as shrimp are imported through different channels, including illegal imports.


Out of the frying pan into the fire


Under the current regulations, white leg shrimp rearing must be carried out in intensive farming in programmed areas in order to avoid the spread of epidemics. However, in fact, it is very difficult to segregate white leg shrimp and black tiger shrimp-growing areas


Pham Nam Duong, Deputy Director of the Tra Vinh Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that legal documents stipulate that violators will be heavy punished, but do not clearly stipulate how heavy the punishments should be.


A lot of farmers have shifted to hatch white leg shrimp instead of black tiger as they hope to get fatter profit. However, it is not easy to sell the shrimp.


Le Vu Phuong, a farmer in Long Huu commune in Duyen Hai district in Tra Vinh province, related that he bred 500,000 shrimp, 80 shrimp/sq m, and harvested the crop after 2.5 months of breeding, got 8.6 tonnes per hectare, and the sale price was VND45,000-50,000/kg. “The profit was satisfactory, but it was difficult to unload the shrimp,” he said.


Arranging capital for shrimp hatching also proves to be a tough. Farmers have to spend their own money on shrimp feed, breeders and medicine, as suppliers refuse to sell products on credit. The capital needed for white leg shrimp farming proves to be relatively big due to the thick shrimp density, 80-100 shrimp per sq m, 7-10 times denser than populations of black tiger shrimp.


Meanwhile, experts assert that the consumers’ demand for white leg shrimp is just temporary. In the long term, black tiger shrimp remain the top choice of consumers. Therefore, they say that Vietnam need to develop the two kinds of shrimp at the same time.

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