|Handling, Processing and Marketing of Fish in Bangladesh - Part 1 (NRI)|
|Section 4: The shrimp industry|
In 1983- 1984, there were 44 processing plants operating with a freezing capacity of 308 tonnes per 24 hours and cold storage capacity of 8,670 tonnes (Aquatic Farms Ltd., 1986). Shrimp accounted for most of the product processed, but frogs' legs and fish were also handled. Two of the plants belonged to Government corporations: BFDC and BSIFC.
The degree of capacity utilisation was very low - only 16% according to one source (Marr, 1985). Such overcapacity has not led to a curtailment of the building of new plants and there are now about 70 in existence. It has however caused intense competition for shrimp between packers, forcing up their buying prices, eroding profit margins and making it difficult for them to insist on good quality raw material. To make ends meet some processors lower the quality standards of the finished product by packing short weights, inaccurate counts and defective product. Another consequence of the overcapacity is that processors are trying to export cheaper types of seafood (e.g. hilsa) and in some cases are freezing fish for the domestic market, as discussed in Section 3.4.4.
Most processing plants are well designed, well constructed and adequately laid out. However, some improvements can be made, generally requiring only minor expenditure or a tightening of operating procedures, e.g. screening of doors and windows, wooden slats to ensure adequate air circulation between cartons and walls in cold stores, plastic strips across storage doors, lights recessed into the ceiling to prevent collection of dust, adequate foot baths and washing facilities.
Many plants have special areas set aside for peeling shrimp, but here facilities and practices are worse than in other areas of the plant.
A survey of 17 packers (Rapport Bangladesh Ltd., 1986) found that port facilities and shipping presented some problems. As regards port facilities, the following difficulties were reported: cranes not available in a timely manner, inadequate jetty facilities at Chalna, absence of cold storage and generator in port areas, absence of plug points for refrigerated containers and occasional labour troubles. Shipping presented more serious problems. Sixteen out of the 17 firms interviewed expressed serious concern about the shortage of reefer space and the inadequacy of refrigerated containers.