GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The Philippines is setting its eyes on producing 130,000 metric tons of white shrimp, in a bid to become a major producer and industry player in the Southeast Asian region.
Senator Cynthia Villar, who keynoted the 10th National Shrimp Congress now being held at the Trade Center of SM General Santos City Mall here, said demand from the United States and Japan markets continues to grow.
The target is to more than double the country’s total shrimp production in 2014, according to the senator.
Considered one of the most profitable brackish aquaculture venture, intensive white shrimp production has barely scratched the surface of its potential as a top dollar earner, Villar said.
But she said that several large producers in General Santos City and nearby Sarangani province are already in the position to compete with industry leaders in the region, such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Among those she mentioned were Alson Aqua, Sarangani Agricultural Company, San Andres Aquacultrue Corporation, and RD Corporation.
These companies produced almost all of the region’s estimated 20,000 metric tons of white shrimp output in 2014.
But Philippine Shrimp Congress president Roberto Gatuslao said that while production has steadily increased, domestic prices of white shrimp have not stabilized.
As a result, value of Philippine shrimp production has remained flat at $50 million (P2.35 billion)*.
Gatuslao, however, said that the Philippines has maintained a competitive advantage over other shrimp-producing countries in the region.
“The Philippines is still relatively free from early mortality syndrome (EMS) that has been plaguing other shrimp producing ASEAN countries.
The Philippines has strictly prohibited the importation of live shrimp to protect the local shrimp industry.
The global white shrimp market is a $2.3-trillion industry and the ASEAN region, with its 616 million population, is a huge market, Villar added.
“With per capita income of $3,700, that is a lot of purchasing power,” she said.
The global output of farmed shrimp is estimated to be at 3.2 million metric tons.
“Aquaculture is the thing of the future,” Villar said, even as she noted that the European Union member countries is already a $9 billion market of which some $558 million are fisheries products.
She urged local producers here to intensify production and invest even more in shrimp production.
The biennial national congress of shrimp producers is being held outside of the Visayas for the first time in 20 years.
While General Santos City has been known as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, most tuna fishing companies have also diversified into aqua and marine culture.
Villar said General Santos and Sarangani have the potential to become the shrimp capital of the country, too.
As this developed, Villar said the Philippine government will set up hatchery plants in each of the country’s coastal regions to help boost production.
It will be funded and run by local government units with initial funding coming from the national government. – Rappler.com
*US$1 = P47.04
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