Small-Scale Shrimp Holders in Soc Trang Achieving International Responsible Certification – the Ultimate Ticket to High-End Markets
Shrimp farming for export provides income and livelihoods for thousands of households in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Last year, the revenue of Vietnam shrimp exports reached $3.1 billion USD. Attractive profits drive farmers in some areas to do whatever it takes to raise shrimp despite unfavourable farming conditions. Spontaneous farming, uncontrolled by quality and standards of the industry, has led to economic loss from disease outbreak and inability to meet importer’s requirements. It has also caused severe environmental impacts such as pollution, depleted of marine resources for feeds and mangrove forest loss.
Transforming the industry toward sustainable productions has been in the strategy of the WWF-Vietnam aquaculture programme and also aligns with the policies of the Vietnamese Government. To achieve the ASC certification, farmers must go through fundamental changes, altering environmental management, shrimp broodstocks, seeds, and feed sources and implementing traceability of the end products. All of these changes come at a cost, however, requiring significant financial and technical investments that most household farms cannot afford.
“Small-scale shrimp farms account for 80% of shrimp volume production. We can’t ignore that number, especially when this business could have such a profound positive effect on the lives of these small-scale farmers,” said Huynh Quoc Tinh, the Food Practice Lead of WWF-Vietnam.
Since early 2016, WWF has been working with Nordic Seafood, a Norwegian seafood importer, and Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock company (STAPIMEX), a Vietnamese processor, to support small-scale shrimp farmers in the Mekong delta in applying better management practices and achieving ASC certification. Hoa Nghia consists of 29 small-scale shrimp farms in Vinh Chau district and is among 30 Co-operatives/farmer groups that WWF and its partners are working with to make their practices more sustainable.
Currently, households of Hoa Nghia co-operative can produce 600 tonnes per year of ASC certified shrimp. These amounts are immediately bought by STAPIMEX to process and export to their buyers in EU countries, where the higher prices that come with ASC certification earn higher revenue for farmers.
“Because these farmers lack financial capacity as well as market connection, we are working to connect them with buyers and to share the financial cost and secure outputs,” said Mr. Tinh. “Shrimp is a global supply chain commodity, therefore, it is necessary to connect international buyers to ensure a stronger supply chain. This is a successful example of public-private partnership in aquaculture promoted by Vietnamese government.”