Trade dialogue stimulates market promotion of Bangladesh black tiger shrimp

Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP), the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Solidaridad have hosted the Bangladesh Shrimp Market Consultation and Trade Promotion in the Netherlands. This event took place from 26 to 28 February, with the aim to provide the government of Bangladesh with feedback on their national action plan for the further development of the Bangladesh shrimp industry. The assembled participants discussed the challenges and opportunities of the EU-Bangladesh shrimp trade among other topics.

The participants of the Bangladesh Shrimp Market Consultation and Trade Promotion in the Netherlands

Consultation session for trade promotion of Bangladesh shrimp

The shrimp industry is currently facing several challenges, among others the need to increase the productivity of farmers and to resolve quality issues in the supply chain. A better future will only be realized if the shrimp are sold in markets which are willing to pay a higher price for a better quality product. It is vital that the Bangladesh national action plan is aligned with the EU market reality.

With this aim in mind, STIP, Solidaridad and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency have thus organized a public-private consultation session, combined with a knowledge tour in the Netherlands. The participants included a high-level Bangladeshi delegation of government representatives, around 20 leading exporters, a range of stakeholders from the EU shrimp industry (importers, retailers, food service companies), and representatives from a number of EU public organizations, such as the Dutch food safety authority (NWVA) and the European DG Santé.

Willem van der Pijl, director of the Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP), addresses the audience

Collective support for continued and open dialogue

The main part of the consultation session took place on Tuesday, 26 February. In the course of the day, several participants have remarked that this meeting was the first time that so many different stakeholders from various parts of the shrimp supply chain have come together for such an open and frank discussion with each other. This fact in itself was already a remarkable development for the shrimp industry, and the meeting was, therefore, a good step in the direction of a shorter, more transparent supply chain.

As a result of the open dialogue during the consultation session, a group of EU buyers and Bangladeshi suppliers of black tiger shrimp have voiced the ambition to form a consortium to help foster their further cooperation in an open and transparent way, guided by a code of conduct which would be developed for this purpose. The ambition is to develop a brand for Bangladeshi black tiger shrimp which would be launched as a premium product into the EU market. Several other organizations have also expressed their interest in actively joining the conversation further.   

Left to right: Willem van der Pijl (STIP), Md. Raisul Alam Mondal (Bangladesh Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Secretary), Sylvie Coulon (DG Santé), Ms. Sharifa Khan (Bangladesh Ministry of Commerce, Additional Secretary Export), Saleh Ahmed (Bangladesh Department of Fisheries (DoF), Additional Director General)

Tackling the quality of black tiger shrimp

Although black tiger shrimp – a niche market where Bangladesh holds a competitive advantage in their export to the EU – is an initially high-quality farm product, this quality becomes increasingly degraded the further it moves along the long supply chain. There is a lot of pressure from all sides and on all parties involved to try to keep the price of the product as cheap as possible, which affects its final quality. The assembled stakeholders have commenced dialogue to try and tackle this problem in joint collaboration. The discussions may continue further at the Global Seafood Expo in Brussels later this year.

Optimizing market potential and developing global partnerships

With the support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh, Solidaridad has facilitated this event with the aim to optimize the market potential of the highest-quality cultured shrimp from Bangladesh and to position it in the world shrimp market. Another objective of the consultation was to develop global partnerships with international market actors for investment in production, processing and branding of Bangladeshi shrimp. Selim Reza Hasan, the Bangladesh country manager from Solidaridad Network Asia, represented Solidaridad during the consultation session.

Conference participants had the opportunity to engage in many discussions during the consultation event

Supporting shrimp farmers in Bangladesh through SaFaL programme

Since 2012, Solidaridad has actively supported farmers – shrimp farmers among others – in the south-west of Bangladesh through the Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages (SaFaL) programme. In an interview during the consultation session on 26 February, Selim said the following about the added value of the SaFaL programme for shrimp farmers in Bangladesh:

“The shrimp supply chain in Bangladesh is very complex, with multiple intermediaries that hinder the quality and price competitiveness of shrimp. The farming is costly and the majority of farmers doing extensive shrimp farming are smallholders, so they don’t have enough capital to invest. The intermediaries provide conditional finance to the farmers with the condition that they have to sell their product to them. Solidaridad is lobbying the government for developing strategies and policy actions for investment and working with the business community, because they need to invest in these businesses. Farmers should have access to capital for their farming.”

Selim Reza Hasan, country manager Bangladesh at Solidaridad Network Asia, addresses the audience at the consultation session in the Netherlands

The SaFaL programme enables shrimp farmers to join forces by means of cluster farms, which improve their access to quality inputs, services and finance. Within the programme, Lead Farmers are working as the enablers of cluster farming. They receive additional training and can thus impart their knowledge on other farmers within their cluster.

SaFaL directly benefits around half a million people in the Delta region of Bangladesh through improving their food security and developing resilient livelihoods by means of adopting climate smart agriculture and market linkages. Through public-private partnerships and engagement, SaFaL is facilitating the standardization of farming and post-harvest management, including value proposition for food safety. This allows for better access to the regional, national and international markets. The programme has had a tangible impact on the agricultural productivity and promotion of agri-businesses.

In addition, SaFaL also includes an active gender inclusive approach and has supported many women in their role as farmers and entrepreneurs, helping them gain access to the right markets for their produce.

Read more about the work of Solidaridad in sustainable aquaculture.