Shrimp farmers in Surat Thani and Chumpon provinces in Thailand are actively taking the opportunity to understand more about the health status of their shrimp. I was at the recent Tha Thong Plain Shrimp Cooperative annual fair and enjoyed a few days working with enthusiastic farmers and excellent partners.

During the shrimp fair, SFP and Fish Vet Group delivered a real-time diagnostic service for farmers who brought in shrimp samples for analysis. The service was run “live” from a booth, which attracted a lot of attention from farmers and even mesmerized 20 school kids for about 30 minutes! The service is being piloted to provide farmers with results in just two hours, as opposed to the two days that current services take. Fish Vet Group will be taking the service directly to farms in the next few weeks, so that farmers can link the testing results to farm management information, in order to improve their practices.

The diagnostic service is part of the Shrimp Health Resources Improvement Project (SHRImp), which is funded by the Walmart Foundation and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and implemented by SFP, Fish Vet Group, IDH, XpertSea, the University of Stirling, and ThaiTIP (a multi-stakeholder technology innovation platform). The project aims to give farmers the tools to improve their productivity and to help clubs, co-ops, and local government better understand and manage emerging disease outbreaks.

The Tha Thong Plain Shrimp Cooperative’s annual fair includes a seminar series, trade fair, and networking events. This year, it even included a fashion parade of dresses made from shrimp feed bags (clean ones!) by designers contracted by the feed companies. At the end of the show, the dresses were auctioned for charity.

The SHRImP project is also working with the Chumpon Quality Shrimp Club, which is actively piloting the diagnostic testing service and exploring the use of the XpertSea shrimp counting tool and farm management system. In Chumpon, we also have the active support and engagement of Seafresh Group, to help test the services and encourage more farmers to participate. Other companies in the Asian Farmed Shrimp Supply Chain Roundtable (SR) are supporting the project, which aims to work with clusters of farmers in key production zones to determine whether they have common risk factors that may be reducing productivity or increasing disease risks. We welcome more farmers from Chumpon and Surat Thani.