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Processor Woes as Vietnamese Shrimp Runs Short

VIET NAM - Although the Cuu Long River Delta has entered a new shrimp hatchery crop, seafood processing workshops have been running perfunctorily with just 20-30 per cent of capacity.

Tran Thien Hai, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said that most processing workshops are seriously lacking material shrimp. Meanwhile, Nguyen Thong Nhan, Deputy Director of Ca Mau Seafood Department said that workshops are running at 25 per cent of their capacity, which should be seen as abnormal.

There are 39 shrimp processing enterprises in Ca Mau province. Leading enterprises in provinces like Minh Phu, Phu Cuong and Camimex are now running perfunctorily. Director of Camimex Nguyen Thi Tuyet said that at the same time of the previous year, the company had to work additional shifts, while it is now running at an indifferent level due to the material shortage.

Nguyen Viet Cuong, Chairman of Phu Cuong Corporation, complained that he cannot find enough materials to fulfill export orders. Phu Cuong has 15 member companies, using 10,000 workers.

It is even difficult to find shrimp materials now in Soc Trang and Bac Lieu shrimp growing areas, which always provides high output, thanks to the hatchery in the industrial and semi-industrial way.

Shrimp ponds idle

According to the Ca Mau Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, in February 2009, only 300 out of 1,300 ha (23 per cent) of the water area reserved for shrimp hatchery in the industrial way were seen to have shrimp, while the other areas have been either left idle or are farming other kinds of aquatic products.

In Bac Lieu province, Duyen Hai Company has left 500 ha idle in Hiep Thanh commune. Local authorities of Vinh Hau A commune said that there is 1,100 ha reserved for shrimp hatchery in the commune, but only 10 households here have resumed farming. In 2009, the province plans to have 11,000 ha of shrimp, but only 1,300 ha have been farmed with shrimp hatcheries (11.8 per cent).

In Soc Trang province, according to Nguyen Van Khoi, Deputy Director of the province’s Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, 40 per cent of shrimp farming households in My Xuyen, Long Phu and Vinh Chau districts do not have capital for re-investment after the incurrence in previous shrimp crops. The dirt cheap shrimp material price in 2008 made farmers suffer heavy losses.

What to do?

In Soc Trang province, 20 per cent of households are still wavering between resuming shrimp farming or not.

Nguyen Truong Dien, a farmer in Gia Hoa commune in My Xuyen district, related that 90 per cent of shrimp cultivating areas suffered last year, and therefore, few farmers do not dare hatch shrimp this year.

Most farmers are tired of hatching shrimp. They said that the total expenses for every kilogram of merchandise shrimp is VND70,000/kg, while the sale price is just VND50,000.

In fact, a lot of farmers are still brave enough to resume shrimp hatchery despite previous losses. However, they cannot arrange capital for the investment.

In Soc Trang province, more than 80 per cent of shrimp hatchery households have to rely on bank loans. However, the continued sufferings have made the overdue debts increase, now reaching VND500 billion.

Nguyen Van La in Hoa Nhan hamlet in Hoa Tu 1 commune, My Xuyen district, said that as they are suffering losses, farmers have to work for others to get money for improving the ponds and purchase shrimp breeders.

La said that though the shrimp material prices have been increasing a little, this has not been enough to encourage farmers to resume farming.

Le Van Quang, Chairman of the Ca Mau Seafood Processors’ and Exporters’ Association, said that in order to encourage farmers to resume farming, it is necessary to provide them with preferential loans to help them ease the difficulties.

the Fish Site Editor

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