A new species of shrimp named vannamei or whiteleg, which is dominating the shrimp market, is seeing success in its first experimental cultivation in Khulna.
The average production per hectare of this shrimp is 6,761kg more than the Bagda variety.
Besides, the production rate of this species is high while cost is low.
It is also cheap, easily available and delicious.
The vannamei shrimp originated in Vietnam, but now 15 countries in Asia are producing it.
Except Bangladesh, the remaining 14 countries are producing it commercially.
If necessary steps are taken, Bangladeshi shrimp exporters say they can go for commercial production of this variety.
Shrimp farmers and exporters say only vannamei can grab the world market by expanding the shrimp industry of Bangladesh.
According to the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters' Association, the average production of Bagda shrimp in Bangladesh is 341kg per hectare while that of vannamei in India is 7,102kg per hectare.
It says Bagda and Galda shrimp production is declining day by day. Besides, Bangladesh is failing to compete in the international market of frozen shrimp.
In this regard, the association has been applying to the government for permission to cultivate vannamei for the last 20 years.
The government finally gave the permission in September 2019.
The project is being piloted at the Paikgachha Saltwater Centre in Khulna under the Department of Fisheries and the Fisheries Research Institute.
This is a joint venture between MUC Foods of Jashore BSCIC Industrial City and Sushilan, a private development agency in Satkhira.
The cultivation of this new species of shrimp is going on in four ponds.
About eight lakh vannamei shrimp fries, brought by air from Thailand in March, were released there in early April this year.
Those involved in the project have expressed satisfaction with production.
Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Paikgachha Saltwater Centre in Khulna Dr MD Latiful Islam said entrepreneurs were given six ponds for the cultivation of vannamei shrimp.
He said although the programme was supposed to start in 2020, the first shrimp was released on 31 March this year due to the pandemic.
"They reserved two ponds and cultivated fish in the remaining four ponds."
Praful Kumar Sarkar, a shrimp expert and former fisheries officer, said samples are tested every week to detect shrimp growth and disease.
Although there has been some fear of higher temperatures this year, regular monitoring has shown that this variety's disease resistance and life expectancy are much higher than Bagda, he said.
S Humayun Kabir, vice-president of the Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association, said only 28 out of 105 frozen fish processing and exporting establishments in the country are operational due to a lack of raw materials (shrimp).
He said the remaining 77 have been closed.
MA Hasan Panna, director of Frozen Foods and promoter of Bagda Shrimp Farming in Bangladesh, said, "To cultivate vannamei shrimp, it is necessary to produce SPF fry in the country. Only then will it spread widely at the marginal farmer level."
Shyamal Das, managing director of MUC Foods in Jashore, the country's first vannamei shrimp farming entrepreneur, said the global market for shrimp is worth $33 billion and vannamei has taken over 80% of it.
"We have to fight for only 20% of the market. We are lagging behind in shrimp production and export due to falling market prices."
As per the Department of Fisheries and Export Development Bureau, 47,635 tonnes of frozen shrimp were exported in the 2013-14 fiscal year, which came down to 30,036 tonnes in 2019-20.
Also, foreign exchange earnings fell from $550 million to $333 million. In 2020-21, it came down further to $329 million.