|▲ Seojun Bio / CEO Kim Young-su|
Giant river prawns live in the subtropical region such as Thailand and Taiwan and they grow up to 40cm and 400g, the biggest freshwater prawns in the world. They are highly profitable to the businessmen with keen eye as 1kg costs around 40,000 to 60,000 won. The taste is similar to crawfish so people call sometimes them crawfish prawns. Giant river prawns were first introduced frozen to South Korea by a conglomerate. Ever since, the National Institute of Fisheries Science is working on farming them but without substantial results yet. Interestingly, Seojun Bio is transferring giant river prawn farming technique to people for free.
“I came to know giant river prawns when working for the National Institute of Fisheries Science. I and a senior researcher quit and joined hands to start our own business in 2014 although it didn’t go well as I expected. I then passed the Youth Startup Academy run by the Korea SMEs and Startup Agency and secured 100 million won government fund and pushed forward the business in earnest from April 2018. I turned Seojun Bio as a corporation on 19th September the same year” explains Kim Young-su, CEO of Seojun Bio.
Seojun Bio is an in-house company of the Startup Incubation Center at Mokwon University since January this year and about to move into Daedeok Science Town 2 in October this year through an agreement with Daejeon Metropolitan City and KAIST.
Compared to tiger prawns, giant river prawns are 3 times to 12 times more expensive per kg which makes them highly value added business-wise. In addition, giant river prawns grow in fresh water which makes them grow easy while tiger prawns live in the sea water only. To make the farming more scientific, Seojun Bio introduced a technology to control water quality, microorganism, water level and the feed of the farming that can be done on a smart phone. When it is fully ready, the company will apply its Biofloc technology for a patent.
It is common that Korean seafood farmers tend to grow what they used to grow. Seojun Bio, on the other hand, focuses on development of new species, seeding, farming, selling, distribution and consulting for systematic supply of the products to consumers. For example, Seojun Bio increased the survival rate of giant river prawns to more than 70% from 15~30% and is targeting to make it 80% within this year.
Currently, the Yeongdeok County Agricultural Technology Center is promoting giant river prawn farming in order to diversify income source of farmers. The center is to finish the survey on growth amount, feed rate and survival rate to bring up an ideal farming environment within October this year; when successful, the center spreads the farming in earnest.
“Seojun Bio is more like a laboratory than a company. All our staff is but doctors or soon-to-be-doctors in the respective fields. I hope our R&D will make a contribution to advancement of the Korean fisheries.”
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