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Struggling shrimp sector offers dwindling benefits

Update: June, 30/2012 - 08:55

HA NOI — Competition among seafood exporters of the world is becoming more fierce and increased costs are weighing heavily on the profits of shrimp farmers and processors, say industry experts.

This is despite high turnovers in breeding and exports, they add.

The fall in shrimp farming profits is due to the higher costs of baby shrimp, medicine and feed which account for nearly 80 per cent of their total expenses.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has asked provinces in the Mekong Delta to rezone shrimp breeding areas and invest in baby shrimp and technology to help shrimp farmers.

Phat also told shrimp exporters to sell directly to foreign consumers instead of through a third party. The difference between export and retail price in foreign countries was sometimes 10-fold which put farmers and processors at risk if the global market got worse, he said.

Vietnamese fisheries processors had already sought a foothold in 90 countries and territories but they could not control selling prices, said Phat.

Nguyen Trieu Don, chairman of Ut Xi Shrimp Processing JSC in Soc Trang Province, said his company had to import raw shrimp to maintain production, due to the lack of local shrimp.

However, global prices for processed shrimp went down 20 per cent over the same frame last year, Vietnamese exports were less competitive against other exporters and this was exacerbated by high bank interest rates, said Don.

Pham Anh Tuan, deputy director general of the Fisheries Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said shrimp farming had become a key economic sector for provinces in the delta region. However, these provinces did not have clear plans and developed infrastructure.

One of the most important things was that baby shrimps were being sold in the local market without quarantine, which put the sector at risk of a disease epidemic.

Le Van Quang, chairman of Minh Phu Fisheries JSC in Ca Mau Province, said baby shrimp producers wanted to meet all requirements set by the ministry.

Nguyen Van Nhiem, chairman of My Thanh Shrimp Association in Soc Trang Province. A supervision agency should be established to conduct policies for shrimp breeding areas. — VNS

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