Organic shrimp farmers protect mangrove forests
After three years of implementation of the Mangroves and Markets Project (MAM), shrimp farmers have become more aware of organic production techniques and the need to preserve mangrove forests in their areas.
“Local farmers in the southernmost province of Ca Mau have been able to significantly increase their income. They now have higher productivity and prices for their organic shrimp, and get paid for environmental services,” Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, project manager, said at a project review meeting of the first phase held in HCM City last week.
The goal of the project is to help local shrimp-farming systems become more profitable by combining them with protection of mangrove forests. This enhances profitability and sustainability while also increasing coastal resilience to climate change.
The project is carried out in the Nhung Mien and Dat Mui Protected Forests in Ngoc Hien District in Ca Mau Province, with 5,300 households on an area of 24,000 hectares.
Households have been provided training in managing household waste and forest protection, and have also been shown how to farm without industrial foods or chemicals. The training leads to NaturLand certification for farmers. The certification will allow farmers to charge five to 10 per cent more per kilogramme of shrimp.
From 2014 to 2015, the Nhung Mien Protected Forest expanded by 175 hectares. The project planted trees on 80 ha, while the remaining were planted by local farmers.
“The project has connected farmers, businesses and local authorities to ensure a livelihood for local residents as well as protection of mangrove forests in the context of climate change,” Thuy said.
In the next phase of the project, expansion of international certification for organic shrimp will be important as it will help Vietnamese exporters in larger markets.
Improving shrimp feeding and attracting more resources for shrimp and forest research; increasing awareness of local communities; and co-operation among partners in forest planting, protection, management and aqua-culture production will all be needed, Thuy said.
Policies on payment for environmental services related to aquaculture must be completed and issued soon, she said, to ensure that shrimp raising is sustainable in a time of climate change.
“The project has helped Ca Mau so much to develop organic shrimp breeding,” Chau Cong Bang, deputy director of the Ca Mau Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said.
The province accounts for 28 per cent of national aquaculture and 50 per cent of national mangrove forests.
The project has the potential to be a model of shrimp feeding and forest protection.
During the 2010-2015 period, the output of aquaculture increased 2.7 per cent annually, from 7,546 tonnes in 2010 to 9,605 tonnes in 2015.
By 2020, the province targets an increase in yearly growth of 6 per cent with total capacity of 14,300 tonnes each year, of which 60,000 hectares are expected to receive international certificate for organic shrimp.