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Eco-shrimp farming: environmental solution for Mekong Delta

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Eco-shrimp farms in several provinces in the Mekong Delta reduce costs, bring high export value, and are environmentally friendly.

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Vietnam is a big shrimp exporter

 

Fifteen years ago, rice farmers in the Mekong Delta began shifting to shrimp hatchery which can bring higher profits than rice cultivation. However, intensive farming techniques have damaged the environment.

Intensive farming has been implemented in nearly all Southeast Asian countries as well. Massive deforestation has occurred in coastal areas, the natural environment for shrimp. 

Later, farmers rushed to remove rice plants and brought brackish water into fields which turned into artificial environment for shrimp farms. 

The deforestation puts coastal areas at risk of erosion by waves and storms. It also increases the negative impact of climate change on sub-regions and the shrimp farm industry.

On the mainland, intensive farming depends on underground water. Farmers dig large ponds, spread waterproofing on the ground, and drill wells to get saline water for shrimp farms. 

The Mekong Delta is sinking naturally, but the shrimp farming areas are shrinking more rapidly. Reports show that in 2010-2015, Vietnam’s Mekong Delta sank by 10 centimeters and about 300 hectares of coastal land disappeared because of erosion since 2005.

The waste water from shrimp ponds goes directly to water sources without treatment. The waste water then is pumped by farmers to fields. To protect shrimp from disease, farmers have to use a lot of antibiotics.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has decided to develop eco-shrimp farming on an industrial scale and step by step eliminate chemicals from intensive farming fields.

Vietnamese farmers once tried eco-shrimp farming in their rice fields tens of years ago. However, they did not receive necessary support to develop this farming method.

In 2013, IUCN launched the Mangroves and Markets program under which farmers were trained to raise shrimp on streams within mangrove forests, not on major rivers. 

Here shrimp grows in the natural ecosystem together with other aquatic creatures such as clams and oysters. Forests help maintain salinity, retain silt and prevent erosion.

This method reduces farming costs because shrimp find food in a wild, and farmers do not have to treat waste water. The expenses on antibiotics are small. The method doesn’t require much labor. The organic shrimp has been certified by Naturland, a reputable market certifier based in Germany.

According to Dinh Xuan Lap, deputy director of the Center for International Cooperation in Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries, ecological shrimp is $0.86-1.3 per kilogram more expensive than industrial shrimp.

 

 

Source: VietNamNet

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