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Farmers Unmoved as Catfish Prices Leap

by 5m Editor
19 March 2009, at 12:00am

VIET NAM - Prices of tra catfish in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have begun to rise but farmers are still staying away from breeding them.

Heavy losses inflicted by a drastic drop in prices last year coupled with high production costs are the main inhibiting factors.

In the Mekong Delta, the country's major tra catfish breeding region, the area devoted to breeding the fish reduced by 600ha over six months to 5,240ha at the end of last year, according to the Aquaculture Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In provinces that were leading producers of the catfish like An Giang and Dong Thap, 30 per cent of the ponds are lying unused after farmers suffered losses due to oversupply last year.

Nguyen Huu Dung, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said to avoid the situation of oversupply or severe shortage of catfish at a given time, seafood processors should regulate the fish breeding quantity by signing contracts with farmers to guarantee consumption of their entire output.

"This is very important because there are many export markets for catfish now and the potential of the fish breeding in the delta is very large," Dung said.

He also called for measures to limit the increase of seafood processing establishments in order to maintain a balance between production and consumption and prevent unhealthy competition.

To manage catfish exports better in the near future, VASEP plans to appoint a group leader for every export market that will inform other enterprises about export prices to serve as reference for the latter when they sign export contracts.

This is expected to prevent the dumping of export price that have caused huge losses for farmers.

After 10 years of developing catfish breeding and processing, the tra catfish is exported to 107 countries and territories.

Viet Nam plans to produce 1.3-1.5 million tonnes and export US$1.5 billion worth of the catfish products this year.

Last year, the delta produced 1.2 million tonnes and exported 633,000 tonnes of catfish products worth $1.44 billion.

5m Editor