Golden Corporation (GC), one of the country’s leading aquaculture players, has started culturing the pacific white shrimp with hopes to produce B$16 million worth by end of this year.
Speaking on the sidelines of a working visit by the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism recently, the company’s Managing Director Richard Chuang Hsi Shan said that the move towards cultivating one of the most traded species in the world was a necessary step for expansion and sustainability.
This was due to the decline in the production of its flagship product blue shrimp for several years caused by inbreeding depression – a reduced biological fitness as a result of mating from the same species.
According to the figures provided by GC, the production at one of its biggest shrimp facility located in Sg Penyatang fell by 35 percent from 450 metric tonnes in 2017 compared to 293 metric tonnes in 2018.
Subsequently, the site faced another decline last year, producing a mere 192 metric tonnes of shrimp in 2019, a 34 percent reduction from the previous year.
“We have been cultivating the blue shrimp for almost 20 years here in Brunei, and as years go by the genetic line has become narrower, making the species weaker and affecting its survivability,” he said in an interview with local media.
The culturing of white shrimp provides the company an alternative product to trade and export, with plans of designating 138 ponds in their 200-hectare shrimp farm at Sg Penyatang to grow the new species.
This is indicative of the huge market for the white shrimp, added Chuang, as the company designated only 68 ponds to grow blue shrimp in comparison.
“The global shrimp market is dominated by the vannamei (white shrimp), which is a commonly traded species, however, we hope to differentiate ours from the ones available in the market,” said Chuang.
“Like our blue shrimp product, we hope to develop premium grade white shrimp that is distinguishable as a product of Brunei. Due to the country’s clean environment, growing high-quality white shrimp is feasible,” he added.
He further said that a majority of the white shrimp will be exported overseas, targeting main markets such as Taiwan, Singapore and China, among others.
“This does not mean, however, that we are giving up on the blue shrimp, it has and will always remain our flagship product. It’s unique and is very appreciated in the world market,” he said.
He added that GC is working with the Agriculture Technology Research Institute of Taiwan on blue shrimp broodstock research intended to strengthen the genetic make-up and culture of the blue shrimp.
Nevertheless, the company is determined to ramp up its production especially with the arrival of the new shrimp variety which was only introduced for commercialisation in October 2019.
Chuang said that the company is expected to produce more than 2,000 metric tonnes of shrimp with a projected value of B$15.98 million by the end of this year, hoping to double that amount in the years to come.
Last year, Golden Corporation’s overall shrimp production stood at 483 metric tonnes.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN