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Export competitiveness and pro-poor growth in the shrimp industry in Bangladesh

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As the export of shrimp from developing countries grows, food safety and other standards required by global buyers become increasingly stringent. Taking the example of the shrimp industry in Bangladesh, this article examines the potential conflict between efforts to enhance export competitiveness by complying with these standards and the pursuit of pro-poor growth with maximum small farmer participation. In order to comply with global standards, the food industry needs to coordinate different activities along the value chain. The shrimp industry in Bangladesh, which involves many small farmers in shrimp culture, has yet to develop an effective mechanism to facilitate the necessary coordination.

One of the possible ways to overcome this problem is to consolidate the supply base in ways that would reduce small farmer involvement. Export promotion requires policy support to strengthen the entire industry's capacity to comply with complex global standards. Small farmer development, on the other hand, needs policies to enhance their livelihood security and reduce vulnerability. In theory, both objectives could be achieved simultaneously by integrating small farmers more effectively in the export-oriented shrimp industry. In practice, export promotion would require measures to re-organize the supply chain with consequences which may conflict with sustainable livelihoods of small farmers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2007

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