BACOLOD City – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking at the continued increase in shrimp and prawn production for 2023 because of investments in research and the adoption of new technologies and best practices.
Highlighting the industry’s contribution to the national economy and food security, Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban lauded the “remarkable achievement” of the shrimp and prawn growers amid the challenges posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the past three years.
“Despite the difficulties brought on by Covid-19, the country ranked fourth in Southeast Asia and 10th in the world in shrimp and prawn production output in 2021,” Panganiban said in his message read by Undersecretary for Fisheries Drusila Esther Bayate at the opening of 14th Philippine Shrimp Congress at the SMX Convention Center here on Wednesday.
He noted that despite a slight decline in the production of tiger prawns, overall production reached 33,000 metric tons (MT) during the first half of the year, higher by about 1,000 MT than the harvest in the first six months of 2022.
“This early, we expect the industry to produce over 91,000 MT of shrimp and prawns by the end of the year, 4 percent more than the 87,700 MT it harvested in 2022,” Panganiban said.
The total production in 2021 was 84,134 MT.
From its production operations alone in 2022, the industry contributed PHP27.63 million to the national economy.
Panganiban pointed out that the country’s production of shrimps and prawns is “critically important not just because of its significance to domestic food security but also because of the Philippines’ strong position in the global trade.”
“This remarkable achievement provides a strong basis for progress in the coming years. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. intends to build on this foundation and has established a national goal of ensuring the industry’s competitive pre-eminence in the administration’s support for the shrimp industry road map,” he added.
Panganiban said the Philippines continues to seek trade opportunities for the industry in such countries as the United States and China and those in Western Europe.
In her keynote message, Senator Cynthia Villar, represented by her daughter, House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Camille Villar, said the government should extend continuous efforts to organized aquaculture farmers, particularly in disease and water quality monitoring to prevent the spread of diseases and eventual economic losses.
“There should be access to information and educational awareness for the uniform implementation of government policies related to shrimp culture,” said Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
Director Demosthenes Escoto of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said while the industry would continue to face challenges, he is optimistic that collaborative efforts would lead to a transformed, highly productive, globally competitive, and sustainable shrimp industry.
“The DA-BFAR Hipon Iangat ang Produksyon (HIPON) or the National Shrimp Production Program, with the guidance of our industry players, is determined to continuously take the lead in the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, policies, and technologies to enhance shrimp production and provide better livelihood to our stakeholders,” he added.
Joseph Edgar Sarrosa, president of the Philippine Shrimp Industry, Inc., said he considers the shrimp and prawn industry as “one of the few success industries” in the country’s agri-aquaculture sector.
“We’re always talking about importation, lack of supply of rice and sugar, but we’re very much proud to say that the shrimp industry is self-sufficient. Our produce is more than the demand. There is big potential in the shrimp industry,” he added.
Chaired by Ryan Michael Alegre, the 14th Philippine Shrimp Congress has gathered close to a thousand participants from various industry players for the three-day event.
This year’s congress has the theme “The Philippine Shrimp Industry: Building and Adapting to the Regional Open Market.” (PNA)