Developing a green and sustainable shrimp industry in the context of climate change

October 27, 2023

A shrimp farm received support from the project

Photo: Phan Huong Giang

Bac Lieu province, 26 October 2023 - The workshop jointly organised by The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Bac Lieu Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Bac Lieu province, focusing on the development of a low-emission and sustainable shrimp industry in Viet Nam, was a resounding success. The objectives were to outline the trajectory for shrimp development in Viet Nam, present strategies for advancing the production, conversion, and consumption of low-emission and green shrimp supply chains, and establish opportunities for fostering collaboration between producers, cooperatives, businesses/processing facilities, and regulatory bodies in the pursuit of low carbon emissions, sustainability, and climate change adaptation. The workshop garnered participation from over 100 experts, scientists, and industry officials, as well as representatives from businesses, cooperatives, and shrimp farming households.

During the workshop, experts underscored the importance of emissions management with environmental conservation. They put forth solutions and technologies geared towards reducing emissions in both the shrimp farming and export processing sectors. Additionally, scientists also shared their insights and experiences in developing models for sustainable shrimp farming, with a focus on achieving clean and eco-friendly production.
According to the national action plan for developing Viet Nam's shrimp industry, by 2025, the total area of brackish water shrimp farming will reach 750,000 hectares. The anticipated yield of farmed shrimp is set to surpass 1 million tons, with the total export value of shrimp products expected to reach 10 billion USD. However as of 2022, the brackish water shrimp farming area stood at 737,000 hectares, yielding approximately 745,000 tons of shrimp, and the total export value of shrimp products amounted to 4.3 billion USD.

The crucial factor in shrimp farming is the quality of the water source. Shrimp thrive best in clean water. Environmental concerns such as sludge, leftover feed, medication residues, excessive chemical usage, and wastewater generated from aquaculture practices, coupled with the absence of dedicated irrigation systems for aquaculture, often leading farmers to adapt existing agricultural infrastructure, present significant limitations, and challenges for the shrimp industry. These challenges pose a threat to the overall value of the shrimp industry, impacting raw material costs, climate change, and global competitiveness.

Bac Lieu is poised to become the center of the country's shrimp industry, with a total shrimp farming area of around 150,000 hectares by 2025. Among these, about 40,000 hectares will be devoted to semi-intensive, intensive, and high-tech farming models. Promoting the issuance of farming area codes, implementing digital technologies for the oversight, production, and traceability of shrimp products, improving shrimp breeds, and leveraging scientific advancements stand as essential solutions to elevate the value chain of the province's shrimp industry and strengthen Viet Nam's position in the global market.

Moreover, Viet Nam's participation in international commitments on climate change, including the Net Zero Emissions Commitment by 2050, the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% compared to 2020, as well as the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use to prevent and reverse deforestation by 2030, marks a significant shift towards a more transparent, accountable, and sustainable approach in agricultural production. During the fourth meeting of the National Steering Committee to implement Viet Nam's commitments at COP26, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh emphatically stated that "green development, energy transition, and emission reduction represent inevitable and irreversible trends."

Mr. Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, the Director of MARD's Department of International Cooperation, emphasised: "Currently, MARD is finalizing the procedures to participate in the Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action, which is anticipated to be adopted at COP28 in December 2023. The transformation of Vietnam's food system towards one that is green, low-carbon, sustainable, and resilient to climate change, characterized by integrated multi-value approaches, a modern and transparent management system, coupled with the ongoing digital transformation, and strong collaboration among stakeholders in value chains, holds major significance. This effort will contribute to implementing national strategies, action plans, and international commitments within the agriculture and rural development sector."

"Bac Lieu province's policies on aquaculture aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing renewable energy include many policies related to many areas of response to climate change; on developing production towards reducing emissions; Policy mechanisms to support and encourage response to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy development in Bac Lieu and policies related to environmental protection and finance in the shrimp value chain. Shrimp farming in the coming time must aim for sustainable efficiency both economically and environmentally," said Mr. Nguyen Trung Hieu - Deputy Director of Bac Lieu's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

At the workshop, experts also presented initial results on building and deploying management software for the shrimp value chain created by the NDC Agriculture Project for the shrimp industry in Bac Lieu, the current status and trajectory of Vietnamese aquaculture, the orientation of the export market and domestic consumption for shrimp products, and the development of the green shrimp supply chain: its carbon footprint and solutions to reduce emissions.

According to Mr. Patrick Haverman, Deputy Representative of UNDP in Viet Nam, "The Mekong Delta region has much potential to restructure natural shrimp supply chains with high value. Currently, in Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Kien Giang, and Ben Tre, there are many small and medium-sized businesses and cooperatives with natural-based shrimp farming areas. Many already have product lines of mangrove shrimp, rice field shrimp, and clean shrimp. However, they need to be more centrally managed and certified with appropriate quality values. MARD needs to have a mechanism to encourage these small and medium-sized establishments and farms to strengthen cooperation to create a product line of organic shrimp and ecological shrimp with specific brands of the Mekong Delta region. At the same time, local authorities need to facilitate the production facilities in enabling traceability in the origin and carbon footprint of these organic shrimp lines, thereby contributing to expanding and stabilizing the supply of high-quality shrimp, meeting the needs of high-end domestic consumption or export to international markets."

Mr. Nguyen Nhut, Head of the Experimental Biology Department at the Research Institute for Aquaculture No.2, introduced a circular, non-emission model for super-intensive whiteleg shrimp farming. He emphasized that adopting sustainable farming practices not only leads to greater economic efficiency but also safeguards the habitat for other species in the water ecosystem.

The experts also discussed the implementation of science and technology to mitigate emissions in shrimp farming and processing, as well as the advancement of the rice-shrimp value chain towards international and organic certification.

This workshop is part of the "Accelerating private sector engagement in climate resilient and low emission investment opportunities in Viet Nam's NDC" (NDC Agriculture). The initiative, led by MARD in collaboration with UNDP in Binh Thuan and Bac Lieu provinces, aims to encourage private sector involvement in Viet Nam's NDC implementation process from 2021 onwards.

For media inquiries, please kindly contact:
Phan Huong Giang
UNDP Media and Communication Analyst, Climate Change and Environment
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Mob: 0948466688