The Townsend Thai Project

Shrimp Farmer

In this Photo:

The DVD showcases a seller in a Chachoengsao province marketplace.

Thailand is the world leader in shrimp exports. The high demand for shrimp in overseas markets beginning in the early 1990s changed traditional farming practices along the coastal areas of Thailand. Thai rice farmers converted their fields into shrimp ponds. As much as five tons of shrimp a year can be produced from a pond the size of a football field. The average life of a shrimp pond is two to four years. Virtually all farmed shrimp are of two species, Pacific white shrimp and giant tiger prawns. These monocultures are very susceptible to diseases, which poses a risk for farmers.

The shrimp farmer in the video is feeding his shrimp. His biggest challenge is keeping the water clean. He pays someone to spray down the mud and they change the water with an adjacent pond. This farmer has three shrimp ponds. The largest, approximately one acre in size, starts out with 350,000 baby shrimp. He will raise the shrimp for 95 to 100 days before harvesting. They randomly throw in nets and weigh the catch. He contacts a middleman who inspects the shrimp and then they agree on a price. The farmer and his crew harvest the shrimp. Afterwards, the farmer lets the pond water rest before starting another crop of shrimp. He prefers to treat the pond waters to sunlight rather than chemicals.