The macrobrachium culture industry in Thailand.
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Giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachum rosenbergii) is one of the most important economic species in Thailand as well as in many Southeast Asian countries. It is highly demanded as food for the Thais that lead to its gradual over-catching from the natural waters every year. Thus, domestication experiments on the Macrobrachium have been conducted by the Department of Fisheries since 1956 to increase prawn production (Sidthimunka and Bhukaswan, 1982). This resulted in the nationwide extension of its culture technology to a number of commercial giant freshwater prawn culture companies. Now this species has become one of the economic commodities in the country’s aquaculture industry. Recently, statistics report showed that the total prawn culture in 2002 increased by 38% from the year 1996, while the total value in the same year increased by 89% from the year 1996. The statistics also showed that in 1996 and 2002, the total production were 7200 and 10,000 mt, respectively, valued at 596.3 and 1,117.6 million Thai Baht, respectively (Department of Fisheries and Suwannatos, 2003). The market price per kg of freshwater prawn, which varies according to the prawn sizes, has been increasing since 1989. In 1997, the large, medium and small sizes increased by 76%, 123% and 81% from those in year 1989, respectively.