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Catfish Prices Up as Supplies Dip

by Ellen Hardy
01 September 2008, at 1:00am

VIET NAM - Prices of pangasius, or tra and basa catfish, have jumped some VND1,500 per kilo over the past few days in the Mekong Delta as farmers have quit breeding the fish due to price drops earlier this year.

Duong Ngoc Minh, general director of the seafood processing firm Hung Vuong Corp., told official sources in Viet Nam that tra and basa were selling for VND15,500 (about 94 U.S. cents) per kilo. He added that supplies had dwindled since some 50 percent of the region’s farmers had stopped raising the fish.

Even with a price increase, many farmers will still lose VND1,500 (9 cents) per kilo due to higher input expenses, said Minh.

Meanwhile, the demand from the European and Central American markets has increased by between 20 to 50 per cent.

However, shrimp prices in Viet Nam have plummeted as farms in the Thua Thien-Hue Province yielded an average of 1.2-1.3 tons of shrimp per hectare this month, a 60-per cent year-on-year increase in capacity.

But the farmers are now struggling to sell shrimp at VND45,000 (US$2.7) per kilogram, down from VND80,000 ($4.8) a year earlier.

The fall in prices is throwing many farmers into poverty as the situations has been made worse by rising input costs driven by rises in fuel, shrimp food and other materials.

In Ke Sung Village, shrimp-breeding families have suffered losses ranging from VND5 million ($302) to VND30 million ($1,800) since this month’s harvest.

Ellen Hardy