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Record Catfish Exports in Vietnam

VIET NAM Viet Nam exported nearly 483,000 tonnes of tra and basa catfish in the first nine months of this year, bringing in US$1.081 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

In the first nine months of this year, tra and basa catfish export increased by 52 per cent in value and 77 per cent in quantity. At these rates, tra and basa catfish recorded the highest growth rate of any aquaculture product.

Experts predict that the country will earn an average revenue of $150 million a month. The country’s catfish exports are expected to fetch $1.5 billion in 2008.

These forecasts should be reasonable, as new markets such as Russia, the Middle East and some Asian countries have demonstrated a growing demand for catfish imported from Viet Nam.

Demand for catfish from the European market usually increases every year starting at the end of September.

According to the ministry, Russia is now the country’s biggest market, as it spent $155.6 million to import catfish from Viet Nam, 188 per cent over the same period last year. Ukraine ranks second with an import spending of $104.7 million, an increase of 255 per cent.

Egypt is also a growing market, as it spent $36.5 million to import Vietnamese catfish.

To increase exports, local businesses need to agree upon a floor price to avoid unfair competition, while ensuring hygienic practices, said Luong Le Phuong, MARD’s deputy minister.

Recently, many aquaculture processing companies in the Cuu Long Delta have invested in upgrading their infrastructure and expanding their production.

Le Minh Tam, deputy director of Trung Son Corporation, said his company was now investing to expand its aquaculture processing plant in Tac Cau Fishing Port Industrial Zone in the southern province of Kien Giang.

Total investment capital for the project would come to around $1 million. It should be operational in December with the total capacity of between 1,000 and 2,000 tonnes per year.

Since the beginning of this year, Trung Son Corporation had exported more than 2,000 tonnes of aquaculture products, earning $20 million, said Tam.

Sa Giang Import Export Company also said they would open a new factory with a capacity of 3,500 tonnes per year in December. The company invested VND30 billion to build this factory in Dong Thap Province.

In addition to upgrading infrastructure, aquaculture companies have invested in widening their material areas. They signed contracts with local farmers to supply them with food and breeding fish to guarantee their supply.