Prawns or “Sugpo” have a universal appeal not just here in the Philippines, but globally. With new technologies on prawn farming, the prawn industry continuous to grow, regaining investors confidence in prawn farming.
I find this prawn aquaculture really quite adaptable to us Filipinos and there are quite a number of benefits as well. New technology on prawn farming in brackish waterponds incorporates pollution management. Prawns can be integrated with other commodities such as tilapia, bivalve and seaweeds. That being said, those commodities are additional products that we can invest in. There are also a number of environment-friendly techniques like crop rotation and improvement of feed formulation can be employed. Green technology makes it possible to inhibit disease-causing organisms. With a tropical country like the Philippines, these are a good way to go. We can invest and produce products and yet be eco-friendly.
There are two technological viabilities in prawn farming currently. Hatchery farming where it is done by separating spawners from the eggs that will decrease chances of bacterial and fecal contamination, it is also part of disease prevention techniques in hatcheries. Regular water replacement dilutes the concentration of toxic metabolites in the tank and will decrease the stress factors. Hatcheries are indispensable to grow-out operators especially when seeds stock supply from the wild is not assured. (Marketing is one of the problems of prawn hatcheries. Since fewer ponds are stocked with prawn due to disease threats/occurrence, demand for prawn fry has also decreased).
Another technology in prawn farming is the Brackish water Pond Culture. Since prawn culture loads a lot more nutrients from feeding and high-density stocks, the farm must provide for their discharge and breakdown so that pathogenic bacteria population does not increase to the point of causing disease outbreaks. This new technology on prawn farming in brackish water ponds incorporates pollution management which constitutes 9% of annual prawn production cost per ha of the farmer. Pollution management is worth the cost considering that a prawn farmer could lose it all during a disease outbreak.
Philippine Prawn Exporting Potential
Although proper processing of prawn is essential to successful operations, the more difficult aspect is exporting the product. Majority of export quality for the Philippine prawn industry is Japan. Although there are also other competitors within the region primarily Taiwan, about 80% of 300 to 550 MT of prawns are exported to Japan every month which is only 2% of Japan’s prawn export in their market. The US market for prawns is big but it is being largely supplied by their south American neighbors such as Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries. Although the prices of prawns have been very competitive, the Philippine exporters should start marketing more in the US to capture not just the Asian region but also a share of US market as well.
There is no doubt that there is a good potential in prawns and an increase of its demands. We just have to realize and capitalize these opportunities as early as we can. The strong demand of the prawn products, the large natural ponds and other technologies suitable for aquaculturedevelopment, and the geographical proximity to Japan which is the largest importer. I think we should start considering this industry more and the government should know how to convert this tremendous potential to increase the production and support the Filipino prawn farmers for more export earnings for the country.