Bangladeshi crab export on the rise

It exports $33mn crab in 2018-19

Jannatul Islam

17 November, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Bangladeshi crab export on the rise

Bangladesh has experienced increase volume of crab export as source of foreign currency in last five years through developing hatchery-produced sources of orange mud crab, a recent study revealed.

Fisheries and Marine Resources Technology (FMRT) under Khulna University conducted the study in association with Care Bangladesh focusing on protection of crab fishery and promotion of crab-hatchery establishment in Bangladesh.

Academics and entrepreneurs mentioned that China is the major market of Bangladeshi crabs which has also opportunities to enter Europe markets utilising the modern technologies in export processing.

Talking to Daily Sun, the research’s principal investigator Prof Golam Sarower explained the possibilities of Bangladeshi crab which is now depended on China market only.

The crab is exported is global market in two formats of frozen crab and live crab. In FY 2018, Bangladesh exported 11435 tonnes after fluffing local demand of 351 tonnes.  Traders grade the catch and sell them at higher price up to $45 per kilogram during peak season.

The study recommended for identifying peak breeding season of mud crab alongside of assessing growth trend of hatchery-produced and wild crablets for increasing export volume. According to Export Promotion Bureau, the export volume of frozen crab is tripled in last three years as Bangladesh exported $ 33million crab in 2018-19 which was $ 9.4 million in previous fiscal. The figure was only $ 7.65 million in 2014-15 fiscal.

According to official data for every 100 crabs produced in Bangladesh, 97 of them are exported of which 85 goes to China and only 3 are consumed in the local market.

Fisheries discipline Prof Sarower identified the species of local orange mud crab as Scylla olivacea and placed it to international document during his research at Tokyo University in Japan.

Besides, the export market of live crab in nearer territories is also increased gradually as the country reportedly exports $ 9.8 million and $ 7.9 million in FY 18 and FY 17 respectively.

“Crabs are exported in two forms, Live or Frozen. Live crabs are usually exported to Asian countries because of high demand and logistical limitations. Frozen soft shell crabs are popular among western countries,” Prof Sarower explained.

The fisheries researcher also mentioned that Bangladesh should focus on frozen soft shell production to take new export destinations of Australia and Europe territories.

Prof Sarower said the mud crab production offers significant return on paper in terms of business viability and the industry is yet to achieve sustainability due relines heavily on crablets sourced from nature.

“Without alternate sources of crablets from hatcheries, the natural stock of crablet will eventually get depleted leading to ecological imbalances,” he added.

He said the frozen or soft shell crab industry provides an opportunity to export Bangladeshi crab beyond the Asian belt to developed markets. The mud crab sector is gaining momentum as the next big sea food export as the government as identified mud crab sub-sector into the special development category in its latest Export Policy Act 2018-21.