HCM CITY — Lobster farmers in the south-central provinces are facing losses because Chinese traders have reduced their buying, sending prices of the crustacean plunging.
|Lobster farmers in the central coastal city of Da Nang check lobsters on a boat. Farmers face losses as Chinese traders have reduced their buying. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Cong Dien
In Khanh Hoa Province's Van Ninh District, which has the largest area under lobster farms, the price has fallen to VND800,000 a kilogramme from VND2 million last year.
Nguyen Khac Dung, a farmer in the district's Van Hanh Commune, said he invested VND450 million ($21,000) to raise 4,000 lobsters.
But in early June, when he began to harvest the animals, the price declined to VND800,000 and there were no buyers since Chinese traders had stopped buying lobsters, Dung, who has farmed lobsters for 10 years, said.
"I lost a few hundred million dong," he said.
Hundreds of other farmers, who raise lobsters in cages in Van Ninh, have also suffered. The district has nearly 1,200 households with around 9,000 lobster cages and an annual average output of 400 tonnes, according to the Agriculture Bureau.
At current production costs, farmers can make profits only at VND1.5 million per kilogramme, Dang Tri Ton of the bureau said.
In the province there are more than 20,000 lobster cages, mostly in Van Ninh and Cam Ranh city.
Tran Van Ot, deputy head of the Cam Ranh Economic Bureau, said the city People's Committee has called on relevant authorities to adopt measures to help the distressed farmers.
Besides Khanh Hoa, lobsters are also raised in Ninh Thuan and Phu Yen Provinces.
Pham Van Hau, who farms lobsters in Ninh Thuan Province's Ninh Hai District, said the price in Ninh Thuan is always VND200,000-300,000 higher than in Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen.
Now it is around VND1 million, he said.
"Chinese traders suddenly stopped buying lobsters, and we [farmers] have to run around to find buyers. Farmers are facing severe losses."
Vo Thien Lang, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Fishery Association, said only a small quantity of lobsters are consumed locally at high-end restaurants.
The rest is exported mostly to China through unofficial channels, he said.
Many farmers in Khanh Hoa said they do not dare start a new crop cycle because costs are high and demand is uncertain. — VNS