Farmers, meanwhile, have been testing ways of adapting to shifting weather patterns and rising salinity – with mixed results.

Some are trying to boost yields using new shrimp varieties, while others are branching out into crab-fattening.

Bangladesh has mostly focused on producing giant tiger shrimp up to now, but output has stagnated amid disease, disasters and limited access to finance and technology.

Shubrata Kumar Sarkar of MU Sea Foods Ltd, a shrimp processing farm that has tested a variety called vannamei, said the king prawns can tolerate changes in salinity and have good export potential.

“We plan to scale up our vannamei farming, and the government should encourage its cultivation,” he said.

Other farmers are trying out ways to supplement their shrimp business, including crab-fattening.

Mud crabs are more resistant to climate stresses such as salinity and temperature variations, said Ali from LightCastle.

Farmers catch young crablets and artificially fatten them by feeding them a carefully managed diet in cages or pens.

Yet while the crab sector has some potential, it cannot substitute for shrimp production as crabs have little local demand and exports are limited, said Rahaman of the CEGIS.

Without hatcheries, farmers rely on catching wild crabs from near the Sundarbans, risking the eventual depletion of their stocks.

Experts said experiments like these are unlikely to improve the situation for communities unless decision-makers pay more attention to making policies work for farmers on the ground.

Ali said farmers lack power in a fragmented shrimp value chain dominated by middle-men and often cannot get their voices heard, despite being hit the hardest by disasters and disease.

“Farmers’ livelihoods and well-being should be at the forefront of policy-makers’ priorities,” he added.

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