One year after farmers had to sell fish at a loss, the tra fish price has been moving up since the beginning of April 2009. The price of white fish last week increased to VND16,200/kg, while the price of T2-class to VND15,000/kg. Farmers can make profit with these prices, but they are hesitant to resume farming as they have not forgotten the heavy losses they incurred last year.
Nguyen Thi Lan, a farmer in Thot Not district in Can Tho, who last week sold 80 tonnes of fish, said that she will use the money from selling fish to purchase fields to cultivate rice. Showing us a large empty pond, she sighed: “I suffered heavy losses in previous crops and made very modest profit in the latest crop.”
There, in the area, which is considered a large fish farming area, a lot of ponds are empty. Some ponds are being farmed, but with sparse densities of fish.
The tra and basa farming areas in An Giang and Dong Thap provinces are also in the same situation. As the fish feed price has increased by VND250-300/kg to VND7,500/kg, farmers are hesitant to make further investment in farming. Meanwhile, the prices of materials for making fish food have also been escalating: sea fish is now selling at VND5,400/kg, while soybean residue VND10,000/kg.
Experts have pointed out that the fish price increases lately reflect the shortage of fish materials for processing. Several workshops say that they are running at 50 per cent of capacity only, but the short supply of fish materials has forced them to raise fish material collection prices.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned that material fish supply in 2009 will decrease sharply. The output in the second quarter of the year is expected to decrease by 50 per cent from last year. The Dong Thap Department for Agriculture and Rural Development said that the fish output is enough to meet 60 per cent of the processing capacity of the provincial processing workshops. The same situation can be seen in Tien Giang, Can Tho and An Giang provinces.
Experts say that processing workshops and farmers need to join forces to ensure enough fish materials for workshops, which benefits both of them. However, in the Cuu Long River Delta, only Thoi An and O Mon Cooperatives in Can Tho and three cooperatives in Vinh Long province have reportedly got cooperation contracts with Hung Vuong Seafood Company on farming 21,000 tonnes of fish.