Shrimp in Myanmar

Myanmar has a very diverse shrimp industry that is currently not operating at its full capacity. Extensive shrimp farming of Penaeus monodon (black tiger shrimp) is concentrated in Rhakine close to the border with Bangladesh and parts of the Ayeyarwady delta closer to Yangon. Semi-intensive shrimp farming takes place close to Yangon and in the west of the Ayeyarwady delta in and around Nwe Saung. Macrobrachium rosenbergii (freshwater prawn) production takes place mainly in polyculture ponds where farmers grow fish and/or rice. P. monodon is popular produced species in shrimp hatcheries and dominates production. Entrepreneurs in the shrimp industry are considering to switch to Litopeneaus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp), and a US genetic company opened in 2017 a shrimp hatchery firm that produces SPF post-larvae.

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Species wise production

Source: FAO (2018)

The Myanmar Shrimp Association (MSA) provides a different estimate than the FAO data in the graph above. The MSA estimated that the production in 2015 was approximately 3,200 tonnes Litopenaeus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp), 30,000 tonnes P. monodon and 20,000 tonnens M. rosenbergii. The estimates of the MSA is expected to be more accurate than the FAO statistics. However, also these

figures are assumed to be estimated too high.

In the beginning of the 21st century, the government supported shrimp farmers to adopt improved extensive practices (with higher stocking densities) and appointed aquaculture zones for semi-intensive culture. When diseased broke out, the government also allowed the farmers to import L. vannamei PL from abroad. In these years production increased rapidly.

When the cyclones Nargis and Giri damaged shrimp production areas, productivity of modified extensive ponds dropped back to pre-2000 levels. This was mainly due to the destruction of most of the hatcheries. The semi-intensive farms in the aquaculture zones did not have the capacity to rebuild their ponds and even if they did, the market situation did not allow them to compete. As a result shrimp production from the aquaculture zones is close to zero. On top of this, also the M. rosenbergii production is hampered by diseases in the hatcheries which cause farmers to depend on wild PL which are scarce and which makes it a very unsustainable production practice.

Altogether, with the necessary investments the shrimp farming sector should be able to recover and increase production volumes from all three species significantly.

State wise production area in 2017 (acres)

Source: DoF (2017)

In 2017 the total shrimp farming area in Myanmar was 241,718 acres. Three quarters of shrimp ponds are located in Rhakine, Ayeyarwady counts for 25% and Yangon for 8%.

The shrimp sector in Rakhine is dominated by small-scale producers. Farmers generally manage large ponds with extensive production systems that are

locally known as trap and hold systems in which the main species is P. monodon, yet also other wild species may be found. The same type of systems are found in the southern parts of the Ayeyarwady delta.

The semi-intensive shrimp farms are mostly located close to Yangon in Kyauk Tan and in the west of the Ayeyarwady delta close to Nwe Saung. M. rosenbergii is mostly grown in the Ayeyarwady delta in polyculture ponds where small and larger scale farmers grow rice and fish.

Shrimp export markets

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, This figure shows direct data, although the figures for 2013-2015 are estimated by the UNSD, as well as about half the export figures from 2017 (including China, Japan, Malaysia).

Cultured shrimp exports from Myanmar are currently largely limited to P. monodon, as L. vannamei and M. rosenbergii are mainly produced for the domestic market. The high export volume to 'Other' markets is largely due to 35,741 tonnes of export to Venezuela.

Traditionally P. monodon produced in Rhakine is exported to Bangladesh. Bangladeshi packers from

Chittagong and Cox's Bazar would purchase the P. monodon from merchants in cities like Sittwe. These would export it legally by road or illegally by boat to Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi packers would process the product and export it as a Bangladesh origin product. Currently, the border with Bangladesh is largely closed due to conflicts in Rhakine and it is not completely clear what happens with the product. At least part of the P. monodon is going to Yangon and is processed by companies like, Shwe Ya Mone and Great International.

The shrimp exports from Yangon are still Asia dominated. Although official export figures do not distinguish different types of shrimp, the STIP supplier database shows that the three EU approved processors exporting P. monodon from Myanmar (see map) mostly export to Japan, China and other markets in Asia. Yuzana, also exports its L. vannamei from its own farms, mostly to Japan.

Export products in 2017 (tonnes)

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, Please note that this figure shows mirror data.

Although shrimp exports from Myanmar largely consist of peeled products that are raw block, semi-IQF or individually quick frozen (IQF), some of the packers, such as Shwe Ya Mone and G.F.T.I also process value-added products. The value-added products are mostly exported to Japan and the United Kingdom and are produced under the supervision of the buyers.

Most of the EU approved packers process small volumes of wild and cultured shrimp. The process with air-blast and plate freezers. Few companies have IQF freezing lines and fewer with a cooking line.

Production systems

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Risk assessment

Environmental risks

  • Mangrove deforestation
  • Dependency on wild PL (P. monodon)
  • Dependency on wild PL (M. rosenbergii)

Social risks

  • Child labour in processing
  • Land confiscation

Quality and supply chain risks

  • Many layers of middleman
  • Long transportation times

Species in Myanmar

Click on the species and find out more about the species in Myanmar