HCM CITY (VNS)— With an annual growth rate of 20 per cent in recent years, the ornamental-fish industry in HCM City last year earned US$15 million in export revenue, far from the city's target of US$40 million set for 2015.
The industry is believed to have the potential to outstrip other agricultural sectors in revenue, but the lack of sufficient infrastructure and high added value has hindered its progress.
Industry insiders said that to ensure sustainable development and higher export value, localities should have long-term strategies that can create large areas specialising in production of ornamental fish.
Vuong Phuoc Trung, deputy director of the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the city had outlined an ornamental fish development programme for the 2011-15 period.
"Under this scheme, we will keep ornamental-fish establishments in inner-city districts and outlying districts such as districts 8, 9, 12 and Go Vap," Trung said.
"This will be done in the rural districts of Cu Chi and Binh Chanh under a modern model," he added. "We will also build an area specialising in the development of new ornamental fish species in the Cu Chi Agricultural Hi-Tech Park."
With this plan, the city expects to produce 100 million ornamental fish by 2015, with 20-30 million of that figure to be exported, doubling the current amount.
All establishments will be upgraded so they can qualify to export products to the EU and the US.
In 2004, the HCM City People's Committee chose ornamental-fish cultivation to be a key component of its plan to restructure crop and livestock production to 2025.
However, many companies are still operating on a small scale, with poor infrastructure that does not protect fish from disease. In addition, few companies are actively developing new species of fish.
As a result, product quality has been uneven, and some producers cannot provide high-value orders to buyers, particularly in American and European markets.
The Ba Sanh Ornamental Fish Company is one of HCM City's three establishments qualified to export to American and EU markets.
Owner Vo Van Sanh said the company's export value in these two markets had fallen by US$300,000 annually in recent years.
"We have found many ways to return to these outlets, but the results have not been very positive," he said.
Vietnamese ornamental fish are exported to 32 countries, mainly in Western Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific markets.
HCM City is a major centre for breeding ornamental fish, accounting for 50 per cent of the country's ornamental-fish export earnings, according to the city's Center for Agricultural Consultancy and Support.
The city has bred many species, both foreign and local, and has established many feed mills that have contributed to the growth of the industry. Sources of feed are abundant in the city's waterways and soil.
According to the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, 283 companies are involved in raising or trading ornamental fish.
In HCM City, Sai Gon Aquarium, Hai Thanh company and Chau Tong are the three major significant ornamental-fish companies. — VNS