Shrimp researchers have proposed allocation of Tk 290 million (Tk 29 crore) to develop the country's shrimp processing laborotories with modern technologies.
Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF) in a recent meeting submitted the proposal to the government seeking the amount.
The shrimp labs are required to be developed to comply with European Union (EU) and US Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) directives.
After completion of a study, BSFF found a wide gap between the existing in-country analytical facilities and the required standard of EU and US-FDA.
BSFF executive director Mahmudul Karim said lack of modern facilities and expertise is hindering the smooth operation of the second largest exporting sector of the country.
He further said the country's shrimp processing factories and laboratories are not well equipped with modern machinery as per EU and US-FDA directives.
The study team stressed the need for buying at least four LCMSMS machines to detect bacteria of exportable and non-exportable food products along with imparting training to operate such machines and other necessary analytical equipment.
BSFF made the plea while presenting a draft report of a survey to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock after assessing the in-country laboratory and manpower capabilities for determining hazardous chemicals.
Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and the Royal Danish Embassy supported the project titled "Assessment of in-country capacities for determining hazardous chemicals and pathogenic bacteria in shrimp".
They also revealed the findings of their survey from November 17 to December 2 last in the laboratories of shrimp processing factories in Dhaka, Mymemsingh, Khulna and Chittagong.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abdullah Al Noman attended the meeting.
High officials from Export Promotion bureau, Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), Department of Fisheries (DoF), ICDDRB, European Commission and Planning Commission also attended the meeting.
Mahmudul Karim coordinated the study programme participated by four consultants of Dhaka University, BCSIR and Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI), Mymensingh.
The consultants visited the laboratories of shrimp processing factories and had discussions with the concern scientists.
The study team recommended upgrading the Department of Fisheries (DoF) and the fish inspection and quality control (FIQC) laboratory with proper instruments including LC-MS-MS machine for analysing nitro furan, which was suggested by the exporting countries.
Earlier, several shrimp consignments from Bangladesh were rejected for the presence of a banned antibiotic, Nitro furan metabolites, that caused serious economic set backs to the concerned exporters and a scar in the country's image in the international market, sources said.
Besides, they also sought permission to spend the analytical service fees of FIQC and BFRI laboratories to improve the laboratories, meet running costs and provide incentives to the workers.
Mahmudul Karim said local and overseas training should be provided for operation and routine maintenance of the highly sophisticated machines and instruments.
The study recommended an immediate short-term follow up project to trace the possible sources of nitro furans (at least up to 1.0 ppb level) and other hazardous chemicals and the way of entry of such bacteria in the shrimp body with the existing equipment and manpower.
The project has been undertaken to scrutinise the prevailing status of the existing equipment facilities and manpower capabilities, he added.