Numerous tra farmers in the Mekong Delta are near bankruptcy despite rising exports since early 2010 because fish has been selling for less than it costs to raise.
Exporters and seafood processors are still purchasing pangasius for VND 15,500 (USD 0.78) – VND 16,000 (USD 0.81) per kg even though the cost for raising the fish has grown to VND 16,000 (USD 0.81) – VND 16,500 (USD 0.83) per kg.
Farmers have incurred losses for the third year in a row, with many of them therefore leaving their line of work.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), in the meantime, said that tra exports have climbed by 8.23 per cent in the first seven months of the year, VietNamNet Bridge reports.
Vietnam’s seafood export turnover for July was USD 430 million, making its seven-month export value USD 2.45 billion, or 11.6 per cent higher than in 2009.
Lam Minh Chieu, chairman of the An Giang Province People’s Committee, informed that pangasius farmers in An Giang in particular and the Mekong Delta in general have been experiencing a thorny time as they continue to see breeding costs rise and selling prices remain the same.
He told that it takes VND 1.6 billion (USD 80,784) – VND 1.7 billion (USD 85,833) to raise 100 tonnes of tra and each breeder normally breeds several hundred to several thousands of tonnes of the fish.
All the same, the tra exports have continued to boom. Even back when the economic crisis begun in 2008 and many industries were struggling, pangasius exports did not suffer, he pointed out.
Chieu said exporters have not been collaborating on pricing and that importers were thus controlling costs as a result, to the detriment of local breeders.
He said that for the tra sector to develop sustainably, breeding, processing and exporting all must be improved. Mekong Delta provinces have asked the minister for permission to establish a pangasius association that would devise development strategies and production plans and to enlarge export markets.
Currently, the European Union (EU) remains Vietnam’s main seafood export market, with a value of USD 512 million and Japan next at USD 371.6 million.
The association would be set up in the third quarter of this year if the PM approves.
Chieu said the association would help fix existing conundrums and protect farmers. It would work to guarantee proper investment in production methods, boost cooperation between farmers and exporters and enhance quality.