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Indonesia's Perfect Fish Not Cheap Enough

by 5m Editor
14 April 2009, at 1:00am

INDONESIA - During the past three years, the Indonesian government has been trying to encourage the cultivation of farmed fish, rather than catching them wild. One of the fish considered to have the best prospects is the local silver catfish, known as ikan patin in Indonesian.

The small, meaty little freshwater native is found in most rivers of Southeast Asia, writes Arti Ekawati for the JakartaGlobe. A naturally fast breeder and grower, by using the right technology, farmers can grow the species to harvesting size in less than five months, which makes it a perfect species for aquaculture.

According to JakartaGlobe, there is one big problem, however. Despite Freddy’s enthusiasm, much of the fish bought in Indonesia are not the local variety but rather the cheaper, farmed Vietnamese variety. To fulfil local demand, the government currently allows imports of around 500,000 tons of the fish a month from Vietnam.

CP Prima Meanwhile, local aquaculturalists say high import tariffs on fish-feed ingredients, and lack of government commitment means their fish are unable to compete with the Vietnamese variety, and as a result are now growing fat in their ponds, unsold.

Emma Dolly Raphen, CP Prima’s head of commercial fish marketing, told the Jakarta Globe that Vietnamese fish sell on the local market for around Rp 9,000 (79 cents) a kilogram at most, while the local product is more expensive at between Rp 11,000 and Rp 17,000 a kilogram.

“This makes it difficult to sell silver catfish, even on the domestic market, not to mention selling them internationally. We really cannot compete with Vietnam,” Emma told JakartaGlobe.

5m Editor