“The Association’s annual meeting gives new and existing prawn growers an opportunity to become informed of the latest in prawn research,” says producer Steve Fratesi of Leland, Miss. “Our industry is fortunate to have innovative and dedicated research groups from many universities. They will be available to answer questions and are receptive to ideas for future research topics.

“The annual meeting gives both growers and researchers the opportunity to come together and discuss the vision of the future.”

Currently serving as president of the national producer organization, Fratesi says he is amazed at the progress the industry has made in the nine years he has produced the farm-raised seafood. “The challenges of the future must now be addressed to carry this industry to its true potential. It will take the continued effort of growers from all states involved for the freshwater prawn to evolve from a niche market into a cohesive and viable industry. For those of us who are committed, I am confident we have a bright future.”

Fratesi said producers ha ve reached profitable production levels using the work provided by the researchers at the various universities. Now marketing becomes one of the next hurdles.

“We have an excellent U. S.-produced product,” he said. “Educating the consumer to this is key. Subsequently, as demand increases and markets are developed, availability of product is essential. Expansion of acreage ensuring availability of product and the development of an infrastructure to get the product to market is fundamental. In addition, the exciting new development of a low cost extraction method for chitin is potentially an important new source of income from the prawn byproduct.”

This year’s annual meeting of the U.S. Freshwater Prawn and Shrimp Growers Association will feature an overview of prawn production and water quality requirements and recent developments in technology. In addition, researchers with Mississippi State University and the Southern Illinois University will review a price demand analysis and marketing opportunities for freshwater prawns.

There will also be a roundtable discussion about potential future strategies at the producer, researcher and marketing levels.

“These meetings are so important,” said Fratesi. “I invite all prawn producers and those interested in prawn production.”

For more information, or to register for the meeting, contact the U.S. Freshwater Prawn and Shrimp Growers Association by phone at (662) 390-3528, or by fax at (662) 686-2984, or visit their website at www.freshwaterprawn.org.

e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com