Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The price of tra fish in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta has increased to a record high of VNĐ30,000 (US$1.3) a kilogramme while processors face a shortage of fresh fish.
A processing company executive in Châu Đốc City said his company needs around 200 tonnes of fish a day to meet export demand but is unable to buy that volume now despite paying high prices at many places.
Dương Nghĩa Quốc, chairman of the Việt Nam Pangasius Association, said the shortage has hit not just processors who do not have their own fish farming areas but even those who do.
He blamed the shortage on a severe shortage of fish fries, whose breeding in the delta has failed to meet demand because of several reasons.
The supply of tra fish for processing for export this year would be limited, he said.
Export prices could remain high this year because it is not easy to increase the farming area rapidly since tra farming requires many conditions and a lot of investment, he said.
In the delta, the farming areas mostly belong to processors and households that have tied up with processors.
The number of households farming tra is small because of stringent requirements from processors, according to the Việt Nam Pangasius Association.
Nguyễn Ngọc Hải, chairman of the Thới An Tra Fish Co-operative in Cần Thơ City’s Ô Môn District, said the breeding of fish fires faced many difficulties in the fourth quarter of last year because of bad weather.
The price of fries remains high, with the 30-per-kilogramme category costing VNĐ60,000, he said.
But it is expected to decline in the second quarter of this year, he said.
In 2016, tra farmers had suffered losses because of low prices, and early last year many stopped raising the fish since they were afraid of further losses.
However, exports to China rose since early last year, immediately leading to a shortage of fish for processing. Since then, prices have increased sharply.
Last year, tra exports to China were worth US$410 million, a 34.8 per cent rise from 2016, according to the Directorate of Fisheries.
Trương Văn Phú, deputy head of the Ô Môn District Economic Bureau in Cần Thơ City, said with tra prices at VNĐ27,000-29,000 a kilogramme, farmers earn high profits.
Nguyễn Hữu Nguyên, director of the Châu Phú District Tra Fish Co-operative in An Giang Province, said most tra farmers had a good Tết (Lunar New Year) this year because of the high prices.
Tra exports have shown good signs this year but farmers have to wait until the second quarter of the year to get enough fish for breeding further, he added. — VNS