Towards Production Efficiency: The Thai Shrimp Model

Dr Suraphol Pratuangtum, President, Thai Marine Shrimp Farmers Association, Thailand

Mr Soraphat Panakorn, Technical Sales & Support Manager, Novozymes Biologicals, Thailand

Thailand’s shrimp farming industry has a long history of more than 35 years. It is a leader in shrimp farming technology from the early days. Production reached 600,000 tonnes until the early mortality syndrome/acute hepatopancreatic necrosis (EMS/AHPND) affected farms in late 2012. However, Thailand remains a key global player in shrimp production. The current production, around 300,000 tonnes, is being achieved using less farming areas than previously. Fundamentally, Thai farmers have managed to have higher production efficiency, higher survival rates and lower cost of production. Furthermore, post-EMS, Thai shrimp farmers modified their culture practices, recognizing pond-carrying capacity, individual farm conditions and effects of farming practices on the environment and market forces.

In this presentation, we will show how the development and success of shrimp farming in Thailand can be attributed to two major components, namely the social role of the farming community and farming practices. In sharing our “Thai shrimp model” and experiences, we will walk you through changes that occurred during four important periods: before the EMS outbreak in 2012; during EMS (2012 to 2016); post-EMS; and the current period. We will conclude with prospects. Post-EMS, the industry realised that it could never revert to the days of high production. The focus is now on efficiency in production, by moving from an art to science, proactive nutrition and control of disease, research in shrimp nutrition, physiology and R&D in innovations, farming and co-culture.

There are lessons to be learnt from the experiences of the Thai shrimp community – how the Thai shrimp industry handled and survived each crisis in the past. And as we look forward, we propose that for a better future, we need cooperation from all stakeholders in the industry. Cooperation on disease and marketing among key players is most urgent today. We require this to be initiated by the private sector. Without such cooperation, we foresee that many farmers may not be able to continue in this business.

Our message to all shrimp farmers around the world is that it is time for us to join hands and become one, as a shrimp farmer network to shape a better future for all. This is our career, this is our future. Let’s make it work.