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Catfish farmers wriggling as prices jump

VIET NAM - The price of tra and basa catfish has leaped to VND1,500/kg in the past month, but the opportunity for a bigger profit may be tempting some farmers to breach existing export contracts in favour of new buyers.

Tra and basa catfish are currently fetching VND15,200–15,500/kg in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces, with prices expected to soar to VND16,000 later this year.

High global demand, as well as input costs, have driven the price increases, said Buu Huy, deputy director of the An Giang Food and Agricultural Produce Import-Export Co (AFIEX).

Export prices have increased too , to US$3 – 3.40/kg, up from only $2.7/kg a month earlier.

Farmers regularly grapple with rising input costs and high rates of losses in raising the fish, averaging about 40 per cent, so some are reportedly willing to breach contracts now to take advantage of the higher prices their fish can fetch.

An Giang Fish Processing Association chairman Phan Van Danh said that a mechanism to control the export prices should be implemented and some level of assurance of co-operation between exporters to ensure stable pricing.

Such co-operation would help enterprises build share information, expand export markets, lift quality of export products and stabilise prices, said Nguyen Huu Dung, the vice chairman of the Viet Nam Fisheries Export and Processing Association.

Fisheries expect to ship 1.2 million tonnes of tra and basa catfish abroad this year, netting roughly $1.2 billion, a 20 per cent increase