WorldFish, an international research organisation, yesterday launched a pilot scheme to establish digital traceability in the shrimp sector, which brings in over $500 million in export earnings to Bangladesh.
WorldFish will introduce a mobile application—eServices Everywhere—of the US-based technology firm SourceTrace, to ensure traceability of shrimp production process -- from hatchery to harvest.
"The objective of this initiative is to get real life experience in order to test its feasibility and effectiveness in establishing a digital traceability system," WorldFish said in a statement.
The initiative comes at the time when major shrimp importers, mainly the European Union, want Bangladesh to establish traceability system throughout the shrimp value chain to track and trace the information at each stage of production, processing and distribution.
Earlier, the Department of Fisheries (DoF) registered 2.07 lakh shrimp farms to establish a traceability system to comply with the requirements of importing countries.
A code of conduct for the shrimp industry has also been framed and updated to conform to the newly enacted US Food Safety Modernisation Act and EU Traceability Act.
Recently, a framework to trace shrimp, from farmer to collection centre to processing plant, was prepared by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation sponsored Better Works and Standards (BEST) project.
WorldFish said it took the step to introduce e-traceability under a USAID-funded Aquaculture for Income and Nutrition (AIN) project it implements.
Under the initiative, some 300-500 farmers will be connected to a collection centre at Baradanga, Dumuria in Khulna, the southwest coastal division, which produces a bulk of total shrimp exports from Bangladesh.
"A buyer will be able to trace the shrimp back to the specific collection centre and the farmers who have provided shrimp to the centre on a specific day," WorldFish said.
In addition, the hatchery source of shrimp postlarvae and feed input will also be recorded.
The new app will transform the critical work of traceability for shrimp farmers and will make the process faster, easier and efficient, WorldFish said. Establishing a traceability system for prawn and shrimp marketing through a community collection centre would empower farmers to be more involved in the marketing of their shrimp, it added.
Nittyaranjan Biswas, principal scientific officer of DoF, said farmers and processors will have to maintain traceability to comply with buyers' requirements, but the main role should be played by the processors.
The shrimp sector provides livelihood for 8.33 lakh farmers, who grow shrimp on 2.75 lakh hectares of land mainly in the coastal areas of the southwest, according to the DoF. Chief of Party of USAID-AIN Project Hendrik Keus also spoke at the event, held at Hotel Lake Castle in Dhaka.