Bangladesh is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of shrimp, harvesting an estimated 20,000 tonnes each year. Half of that finds its way to Europe, and a quarter to American restaurants and supermarkets. It is a major industry – employing some 750,000 people and generating hundreds of millions of dollars annually, crucial revenue for an impoverished country.
But there is a dark side to this success story. The industry is dogged with allegations of bonded labour, gang-related activity and land misappropriation. A recent report says the abuse is systematic, blaming weak labour laws that emphasise growth over workers’ welfare.
With shrimp prices rising, Bangladesh claims shrimp farming is good for the country. But at what cost? Who are the real beneficiaries? And how can things improve for the people at the bottom of the food chain?
Commissioned by Al Jazeera English for 101 East.