Small Shrimp Farms Near Extinction
By Heng Sok Chheng, Phnom Pehn Post,
Darunee Surapanpitak, The
Thailandís small-scale shrimp farming is on the verge of collapse
because of the high cost of technology required for a sustainable
industry, according to a leading Thai ecologist.
technology costs nearly 200,000Baht per rai for a three-month crop and
includes high quality feed, chemicals, antibiotics and engineering works
to avoid soil and water pollution.
Dr. Somsak Boromthanarat,
director of the Coastal Resources Institute (CORIN) at Prince of Songkla
University (PSU), said, as a result, 50 percent of remaining small-scale
shrimp farming will be taken over by the large-scale Bangkok-based
operations or foreign investors and by the year 2005 nearly all will have
quit the industry.
According to CORIN figures, about 80
percent of the small-scale shrimp businesses have already shut
Dr. Somsak said it is not good for outsiders to take
over from local owners because they do not care about the environment or
"They donít concern themselves about the
area. What they concern themselves about is only profit. Then they leave
the workers to fend for themselves," Dr. Somsak said.
about 20,000 small-scale shrimp farm owners will have to change their
livelihood and about 60,000 workers will have to look for other
"I have nothing to do because my business has
Chan Rakkamon is a case in point. ďI have nothing to
do right now because our business has already failed and I canít even
return to being a rice farmer.
"Two of my four sons left home
to work in the city because they could not survive with this business any
more," said Chan, a 75-year-old shrimp farmer in Plai Sai village, Nakhon
Si Thammarat province.
Chan sold 40 of 51 rai of his rice
farm to investors and, with the 400,000 Baht from the land sale, started a
shrimp business run by his four sons on the remaining 11 rai.
the beginning, their business had its ups and down, but for the last two
years it has mostly been down, he said.
He is worried that
his remaining business will die in the next few months because two of his
sons cannot afford to stay with it any longer.
problems connected with raising shrimp are yellow head disease, soil
erosion and polluted water quality.
Dr. Somsak said the
government needs a clear policy to sustain shrimp
Thailand has been the worldís leading exporter
of shrimp. The total value of exports is $2 billion a year, giving
Thailand 40 percent of the world market, according to government
Dr. Somsak said support for the small-scale farmers
is needed from the government, NGOs and the large-scale companies.
Otherwise they will not survive.
However, he added
large-scale companies have expressed interest in helping, but the small
ones havenít accepted the idea yet, for fear they may be taken advantage