Catfish material shortage grieves seafood processors

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
5 March 2007, at 12:00am

VIET NAM - Catfish material prices keep increasing since the days before Tet, which makes farmers happy and processors miserable.

One happy, others miserable

In early February 2007, two new seafood processing workshops were set up in Can Tho City, raising the total seafood processing workshops to 17, which have the total capacity of 350,000 tonnes of material a year.

The appearance of the new workshops proves to be bad news for other processing workshops. The existing workshops, which are thirsty for catfish materials, will face a more serious shortage.

Before Tet, many processing plants in An Giang province had to stop production as they could only get 40-50% of the materials needed for running the plants. Buu Huy, Deputy Director of Afiex said that the company could collect 40-50 tonnes of materials a day, while it needs 70 tonnes.

Catfish material prices are increasing dramatically in Cuu Long River Delta’s provinces. At the end of 2006, one kilogramme of tra fish was sold at VND15,000 per kilo, while the price now is VND17,000 per kilo.

Southern farmers are happy with the price increases. Nguyen Van Tan, a farmer in Vinh Long province said he had made fat profit of VND300mil with the tra fish farmed on the 2,000 sq m pond.

Meanwhile, farmers are unhappy as they could not collect enough materials to fulfill the orders. The processors signed the contracts with partners when the prices were low, at VND16,000 per kilo, and they would incur big losses as the prices keep skyrocketing.

Haste makes wastes

Seafood processors all said that the VND14-15,000/kg levels are acceptable, while the VND17,000/kg level is overly high. However, as there are too many plants and limited supply of material, it is expected that the price would stay firm at high level in the next two months.

The high prices of catfish will prompt farmers to hatch catfish. In fact, Cuu Long River Delta has been trying to expand the area for catfish hatchery, ignoring the warnings of scientists about the environment pollution.

In Tan An Thanh islet in Vinh Long Province, 1,000 sq m of land, which can become the pond for fish hatchery, now is priced at VND300mil instead of several tens million dong as seen several years ago. The price of breeders also increases, now at VND2,400-4,000/unit. Meanwhile, the food for fish has increased by VND200/kg, making the production cost of fish hatchery increase from VND7-8,000/kg to VND11,000/kg.

Seafood processors and farmers have been advised to cooperate with each other, which can benefit both the two sides, however, this thing proves to be very difficult to reach.

TheFishSite News Desk