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Tra fish farming area needs trimming

Update: October, 11/2013 - 09:06

Export turnover fell from US$1.8 billion in 2011 to $1.75 billion last year, according to the association.—VNA/VNS Photo

CAN THO (VNS) — The area under tra fish farming should be reduced to prevent any further oversupply, which has already dragged down prices in the last few years, heard a seminar held in Can Tho on Wednesday.

Nguyen Van Kich, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Tra Fish Association, said tra fish output exceeds export demand, causing a decline in prices.

"[The] output should be reduced to improve prices," he said.

To make things worse, the farming area increased by 4.2 per cent in the first eight months of this year.

Tra is farmed mostly in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and 96 per cent of the output is for export.

Nguyen Huu Nguyen, chairman of the Chau Phu Fishery Co-operative in the Mekong delta province of An Giang, said if tra supply and demand are not balanced, farmers would continue to suffer losses in coming years.

The ratio of tra farmers suffering losses was 9.4 per cent in 1993, but rose relentlessly to nearly 50 per cent as of last year, according to the Can Tho University.

The university's Dr Vo Thi Thanh Loc said Viet Nam accounts for 97 per cent of the world's tra fish exports.

But the country has not studied global demand or zoned tra fish farming areas, causing oversupply, she said.

"A committee should be set up to forecast the movements of the tra fish market," she said.

The delta's provinces should be assigned quotas for area and volume to avoid oversupply, she added.

Participants at the meeting said unhealthy competitiveness among exporters is another reason for the decline in export prices.

Export turnover fell from US$1.8 billion in 2011 to $1.75 billion last year, according to the association.

In the first eight months of this year, the figure was down 2.5 per cent to $1.1 billion, it said.

Le Chi Binh, deputy chairman of the An Giang Province Fishery Association, said creating links between exporters and farmers to ensure quality and output is a sustainable measure for the sector's development.

This would enable exporters to stop farming the fish themselves and also reduce risks for farmers, he said.

Farmers and exporters have to sign contracts to share obligations and rights, he said.

Exporters now farm 50-70 per cent of tra fish themselves and individual farmers, the rest.

Vo Hung Dung, deputy chairman and general secretary of the association, said the quality of tra fish strains should be improved and farming areas should follow zoning plans.

Exporters should focus on developing new export markets, he said.

The EU and the US are now Viet Nam's largest tra fish importers. — VNS

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