María Feijóo: UnderCurrentNews
Thailand’s shrimp farmers stopped harvesting as markets are closed in the wake of a 14-day lockdown in Samut Sakhon, a province southwest of Bangkok recently affected by a COVID-19 outbreak that began at the Talay Thai wholesale shrimp market, Siam Canadian Group’s CEO Jim Gulkin told Undercurrent News.
“Farmers have stopped harvesting as the shrimp markets are closed and they need them to sell sizes that factories don’t buy directly once they harvest,” he explained to Undercurrent.
“Plants are still operating, though. I think the government will likely be able to get things under control and there will not be any long-lasting impact. That’s what we are all hoping anyway.”
According to the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s commerce ministry’s department of internal trade (DIT) will provide assistance to farmers to reallocate their products since production hasn’t stopped.
“Based on talks with concerned parties, including health officials and those in the shrimp industry supply chain, there is a daily excess of 100 metric tons of shrimps to be managed,” said Wattanasak Sur-iam, the department’s general director.
“The DIT will find new markets for shrimp farmers to sell their products at and has sought cooperation with various players, including the Thai Restaurant Association and supermarkets and retail stores.”
However, he will also ask shrimp farmers to postpone harvesting for the time being to avoid surpluses.
According to Poj Aramwattananont, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association and vice chairman of the Thai chamber of commerce, the outbreak linked to the shrimp market may also cause a decline in demand and urged all parties to create awareness around the spread to preserve consumer confidence.
Besides, finding markets for shrimp farmers can also help stabilize prices, which have been pushed down to a certain degree, Jim Gulkin also told Undercurrent. “I assume this is a temporary situation.”
Thailand’s shrimp farmers association is still assessing the impact of the outbreak in the sector and the financial damage, which could be limited unless a nationwide lockdown is finally imposed.
On Dec. 18, four cases were reported in the Samut Sakhon province, a number that jumped to 689 two days after, the country’s worst outbreak so far.
Thailand’s health ministry said it would continue to aggressively search for infections in the province, a manufacturing center and seafood industry hub, Bloomberg reported. Migrant workers from Myanmar make up the majority of the 689 new cases.
Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Foods, the world’s largest shrimp supplier, and seafood giant Thai Union Group announced they will continue their operations normally, assuring customers that their supply chains remain untouched by the COVID-19 outbreak.