ON COURSE TO BE THE GREATEST

Ecuador 2019 | AGRICULTURE | FOCUS: SHRIMP FARMING

Ecuador is the world's second-largest exporter of farmed shrimp, and while shrimp have become Ecuador's largest export after oil, there is a lot more to these remarkable feats than meets the eye.

Since its first shrimp farm back in 1969, Ecuador has developed a number of innovative new methods to massively increase the quantity of shrimp in its farms. Fast forward to 2018, where more shrimp occupy one pond in Ecuador than total shrimp in some countries. Ecuadorian companies have been producing high-quality shrimps for decades, and now have vertically integrated, expert breeding programs.

It should then come as no surprise that Ecuadorian shrimp production is set to exceed 500,000 tons in 2018, according to Ecuador's National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA). If this forecast is met, it will record 17% YoY growth for total Ecuadorian shrimp output. Already, between January and August 2018, Ecuadorian shrimp production rose 18% YoY to 333,019 tons.

During the same period, exports to Asian countries accounted for 61% of total exports, up from 57% during the same period in 2017. Notably, direct exports to China posted the highest increase. With shipments to China more than tripling, China has overtaken the US as the largest importer of Ecuadorian shrimp in terms of both value and volume. While exports to Vietnam remained stable, exports to several European countries, particularly Italy and Spain, saw an uptick.

This massive growth has been a result of multiple key drivers, and balanced feed is one of these. Some of the world's largest feed producers, including Skretting, Vitapro, and BioMar, are actualizing their big expansion plans in Ecuador. In August 2018, US agribusiness giant Cargill and Ecuadorian shrimp farmer Naturisa announced that they are doing test production in a new shrimp feed factory, set to open in October 2018.

Remarkably, the country is also looking into the potential of exporting technology and expertise in shrimp farming to other countries, especially Arab countries that are aiming to achieve self-sufficiency and food security. Such initiatives, together with a continuous increase in shrimp production and developments in regular closed-door meetings, have pushed experts to predict that Ecuador could produce 700,000 tons of shrimp in the next few years, surpassing India as the world's largest shrimp producer.