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Shrimp farmers request govt intervention in falling prices

THAILAND - More than 20,000 Thai shrimp operators will be forced to shut down next year if the problem of domestic price reductions remains unsolved through to the end of the year, say three shrimp-farmer associations.

Three key associations of the Thai shrimp industry - the Thai Marine Shrimp Farmers Association, the Thai Eastern Shrimp Association and the Thai Shrimp Association - yesterday called for government support in stopping shrimp prices from falling, which they said was causing a chain reaction throughout the whole industry.

Surapol Pratuangtum, president of the Thai Marine Shrimp Farmers Association, said shrimp farmers had faced falling prices since April, causing the shrimp-farm industry to lose Bt5 billion, accounting for 25 per cent of the industry's total value.

"Some small shrimp farmers in the South and along the Eastern Seaboard have already shut down, due to the fall in prices. Unless declining prices are resolved, more shrimp farmers will totally disappear," he said.

A reduction in the number of shrimp farmers would have a direct effect on shrimp production and exports in the long run, said Surapol. The associations also predicted the industry's losses would increase to Bt10 billion if the price problem carries on through to the end of this year.

Thailand is the world's largest shrimp producer and supplier among 30 shrimp-producer countries. Total shrimp exports totalled Bt86 billion, or 338,410 tonnes, last year.

The export volume of shrimp rose 12.5 per cent to 80,000 tonnes in the first four months of this year, but the value increased only slightly, by 4.4 per cent to US$20.6 billion (Bt713 billion).

The shrimp price has fallen since April mainly because of oversupply, the strengthening baht and slowing consumer purchases in the United States, the major shrimp export market for Thailand.

Separately, the Thai Frozen Foods Association also called on the government to stabilise the baht, because the firmer baht was creating difficulties for shrimp exporters. Foreign buyers have pressured Thai exporters to reduce prices. Last year, Thai shrimp exports to the US reached 190,000 tonnes. The US accounts for 55 per cent of the total export volume of the Kingdom.

Source: The Nation