The Safe Aqua Farming for Economic and Trade Improvement (SAFETI) project in Bangladesh was a six-year project funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Its mission was to increase agricultural productivity by improving the production and management of hatcheries and farms in the shrimp and prawn value chains to contribute to the aquaculture industry, reads a press release. 

This project was being executed by Winrock International in partnership with local NGOs BSFF, CODEC and TMSS. The project’s implementation areas were Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Jessore and Cox’s Bazar districts.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded Safe Aqua Farming for Economic and Trade Improvement (SAFETI) project implemented by Winrock International recently organized a project closing ceremony titled ‘Transforming Shrimp and Prawn Production in Bangladesh’ at the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital, Dhaka. The ceremony officially marked the end of the 6-year project. 

The project highlighted its achievements in being effective in shrimp and prawn farming and proposed recommendations for increased productivity and trade potential. 

More than 100 people related to the shrimp sector, including the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, government high-ranking officials of the Department of Fisheries (DoF), university teachers, researchers, and farmers, participated in the event. Dr Mesbahul Alam, Country Representative of Winrock International, Bangladesh, warmly welcomed the participants through his welcome speech.

Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Ministry SM Rezaul Karim was present as the chief guest in the closing ceremony. 

He said that because of the government’s initiative, the export income from the fisheries sector has increased in the last financial years despite the global financial recession amid various crises including coronavirus. 

In the fiscal year 2020-21, a total of 251 thousand metric tons of shrimp were produced in the country. Conversion of shrimp hatcheries to SPF PL (Specific Pathogen Free Post Larvae) hatcheries is in progress. 

This year, 621 million SPF Shrimp PL has been produced from three approved SPF hatcheries. As part of the implementation of the traceability system in the shrimp sector, about 2 lakh shrimp farms and 9,651 commercial shrimp farms have been registered. 

To produce safe and quality shrimp in the country, all hatcheries should come forward to produce SPF PL. SPF mother shrimp (brood) should be produced locally instead of importing them. 

“I am happy to know that the SAFETI project implemented by Winrock International with funding support from the USDA has successfully disseminated improved farming practices among small-scale shrimp and prawn farmers in 10 Upazilas of Khulna Division which has increased shrimp production,” he said. 

The project aims to increase the production of SPF PL and link hatcheries at the smallholder level. “I am happy to know that the SAFETI project has successfully piloted Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) technology in private hatcheries to produce SPF PL,” he added, urging for support from all value chain actors to realize the potential that the SAFETI project has showcased.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter D Haas was present as a special guest at the event. He said: “This year the United States and Bangladesh are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations.”

“As Bangladesh is an important trading partner for the United States, the SAFETI Project is a unique example of the warming of relations between the two countries and how the United States is contributing to Bangladesh’s business environment, trade expansion, and the development of the emerging Indo-Pacific region. 120 officials of the Department of Fisheries have been trained under the safety project, which they are disseminating to other stakeholders in the shrimp sector and expanding to the field level,” he added.

Dr Nahid Rashid, Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock said: “Black Tiger shrimp is the pride of Bangladesh. To sustain the success of shrimp farming, all the stakeholders involved in this sector should come forward to implement SAFETI innovative farming methods for smallholder farmers.

Kh Mahbubul Haque, Director General of the Department of Fisheries said: “We have applied the advanced farming method developed by SAFETI at the field level experimentally and SAFETI farming practices have emerged as successful. We are taking steps to expand this method of cultivation at the field level.”

Victoria Becker, International Program Specialist, Food for Progress, International Food Assistance Division, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, said that Food for Progress, established in 1985, works with agricultural development and modernization, production growth, and trade expansion in developing countries. 

In this regard, USDA plays an outstanding role as a liaison between the United States and agriculture-related industries and stakeholders. This significantly contributes to improving the life and livelihood of the farmers involved in shrimp and prawn farming in Bangladesh. 

SM Shaheen Anwar, Chief of Party of SAFETI Project provided an overview of the project. 

The annual average production of shrimp in 2017 was 295 kg/ha as per the baseline performance of the SAFETI Project, which has increased to 664 kg/ha in 2021 after following the six steps of improved farming recommended by the SAFETI Project (increased by 125% from the baseline data of 2017). 

In addition, the sales value per farmer was $918 in baseline (2017), which increased to $2,044 in the year 2021 (122%).

The project encourages the use of Specific Pathogen Free Post Larvae (SPF PL) or specific disease-free larvae for farming, improved feed quality, and biosecurity for improved farming and trade. 

During the project period, SAFETI worked not only with the farmers but also with the value chain actors e.g fish feed and input traders, Pathogen Free Post Larvae (SPF PL) producers, processors, credit institutions, and associations. 

Through this project, 25,000 farmers have increased their farmed prawn production and income. It should be noted that 15% of the total farmers of this project are women farmers. 

There were a series of technical presentation sessions during the event through which the project recommended conversion of all non-SPF hatcheries into SPF hatcheries, following six-step farming methodologies as suggested by SAFETI project, formulation of shrimp and prawn farming friendly policies.

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