Recent armed attacks in northern Rakhine state that prompted the temporary closure of border gates has caused hardship for merchants, including those involved in the salt water shrimp market in Maungtaw, according to salt water prawn and shrimp market.
Bangladesh buys most of aquacultured prawn and marine shrimp from Maungtaw and regions nearby. Due to a series of violent armed attacks by terrorists last month, border gates have been closed, which resulted in losses to farming entrepreneurs and merchants, who are waiting for the return to normalcy.
Bangladesh has been purchasing salt water prawn from Maungtaw region for years, merchants said, and the sudden halt to the commerce is unwelcome.
“Such incidents give no benefits to anyone. We want to eke out our living peacefully”, said U Arnupar, the owner of prawn selling and purchasing depot of Myoma/south (ward) in Maungtaw.
Last year, the volume of salt water prawn along the Maungtaw border trade route reached 286 tonnes, resulting in an income of US$2million.
Similarly, there was export earning amounting to US$4.3m from the sale of fishery products including mud crabs, salt water fish and various kinds of fried fish, according to the district fishery department. There were about 15,000 acres of salt-mater prawn farm in Maungtaw prior to the armed attacks. Depots received several thousand viss of prawn daily. That figure has now been reduced by half, officials said.
“Before now, Maungtaw’s production of salt-water prawn was high, coming in approximately at least one thousand viss per day. Now that it is beginning to be stable and peaceful, the business started to be active. Yet we are delivering our products only to Sittway. We must wait and see when the border gates will be reopened”, said an entrepreneur who runs a prawn sale and purchase depot. It is learnt that at least six villages — Maung Ni, Pantawpyin, Thayekonetan, Myothagyi, Alethankyaw and Shwezar Paungzar — have salt water prawn farming ponds. Of these, there are over 5,000 acres owned by the army and over 10,000 acres owned by small-scale businessmen. “I had 3 acres of salt water prawn farm. I have not harvested fish from my pond for a long time, I expected to harvest at the end of this month”, said U Har Dinnar, a salt water prawn farming owner in Alethankyaw village. “I think the border gates will be reopened very soon. Now our town and many villages have regained peace and stability. I visited Maungtaw yesterday and found town-folks, sellers and buyers operating as normal.”
There are about 60 entrepreneurs running salt-water prawn farming businesses in the township, it is learnt.—Maung Sein Lwin and MNA’s staff