The Daily Star reports that currently, local frozen fish processors receive only 18 per cent of required raw materials against a minimum processing capacity of 265,000 tonnes per annum.
This fact was revealed at a seminar on increasing shrimp production, a joint effort by Bangladesh Frozen Foods and Exporters Association (BFFEA) and Business Promotion Council under the commerce ministry.
M Kabir Ahmed, a former official of Department of Fisheries, said: "We have scope to boost production by technological intervention and expansion of modern cultivation."
Bangladesh lags in shrimp yield, behind China, Thailand, Viet Nam and India.
Bangladesh follows traditional cultivation methods and produces 350 kilograms of shrimp a hectare, compared to China, Viet Nam and Thailand, who produce eight to ten tonnes (1 tonne=1,000kg).
Mr Ahmed said yield can be increased four to five times with technological upgrade and expansion at the farmers’ level. "Semi-intensive cultivation will also facilitate increased production," he added.
At present, Bangladesh cultivates shrimps on 217,000 hectares in the coastal zone, mainly the south-west, and sweet water shrimps are grown on 30,000 hectares, allowing the country to earn foreign currency through exports.
According to BFFEA, out of 184,939 tonnes of shrimp produced in fiscal 2010-11, Bangladesh exported 54,891 tonnes. The volume of shrimp and frozen fish exports grew to 58,503 tonnes in fiscal 2011-12.
"We urge the government to increase allocation and incentives to increase the modern cultivation of shrimp," said BFFEA President Md Amin Ullah.
"The government can facilitate farmers to get medicines and feed at low costs. It is also necessary to train farmers," he said, recommending the establishment of demonstration farms to encourage farmers to adopt modern cultivation methods.
Former BFFEA Director AH Md Shahdat Ali Khan stressed the need to establish a common landing centre for all the processors, in a bid to ensure shrimp quality.
It will also reduce malpractices by dishonest middlemen, who inject water, liquid and various other substances to make the shrimps gain weight, he said.