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Seafood companies and farmers going different directions   2009-06-22 - Viet Nam News

In the Mekong Delta, a lot of seafood processing companies have been developing their own material areas in an effort to reduce their reliance on farmers. As a result, farmers cannot find an outlet for their fish.


Fish unsalable


It is now the end of the fish crop. However, Vo Van Hai in Thot Not district in Can Tho city still cannot sell his 70 tonnes of fish.


Hai has been moving heaven and earth to seek buyers, offering the low price of 14,800 dong per kilogramme, at which he would incur the loss of 1,000 dong per kilogramme.


As Hai still cannot find buyers, he is suffering the loss of six million dong per day which he has to pay for feed. “As fish are becoming oversized, the prices will go down further.” Hai is worried.


At the end of 2008, Hai and many farmers in the Mekong Delta incurred big losses from farming. However, Hai, hearing the forecasts that Vietnam would lack tra fish materials for processing workshops, borrowed money from relatives to keep farming. He hoped that the profit he could earn would offset the losses he incurred in 2008.


However, tra prices only increased for a short time after he began farming, while prices are now decreasing while he is harvesting the crop.


“Farming fish nowadays is like gambling,” Hai said.


The tra material prices in the Mekong Delta have decreased by 800-1,600 dong per kilogramme over the previous month. High-quality tra is selling at 14,400-15,600 dong per kilogramme, while worse quality fish at 12,000-14,200 dong.


Meanwhile, prices of feed for tra have increased by 200-300 dong per kilogramme.


Duong Tan Loc, Chairman of the Can Tho Seafood Association, said that the tra  pond area has dropped by 27 percent over 2008 to 972 hectares, while the fish output dropped by 25 percent to 54,000 tonnes.


Processing workshops going their own way


Nguyen Van Phan, Director of Hiep Thanh Seafood Processing Company, said that due to the global economic crisis, the demand from tra export markets has decreased by a half compared to the end of 2008, while farmers’ pond areas have decreased by 30 percent only.


This spells that 20 percent of fish from farmers will be unsalable. Previously, his workshop ran at full capacity of 200 tonnes per day, while it is now running at half capacity.


“We now have 1,000 hectares of ponds of fish, enough for processing. Therefore, we don’t have to purchase fish from farmers anymore,” he said.


Many other workshops have also stopped collecting fish from farmers.


Phan said that some 60 percent of enterprises in Can Tho now have their own material areas, while only small enterprises keep purchasing fish from farmers.


Phan Ba Tong, Director of Thien Ma Seafood Import-Export Company, said that processing companies now all want to develop material areas themselves to reduce their reliance on farmers.


He said that companies once met a lot of difficulties when relying on supplies from farmers. They did not have stable supply of fish materials for processing. Farmers always asked for renegotiations of prices and did not respect contracts.


Thien Ma, which now has its own material area which can provide 250 tonnes per day, is planning to expand the area and completely stop purchasing fish from farmers.


Phan Ba Tong, Director of Thien Ma Seafood Import-Export Company: When seafood associations said the tra farming area in Mekong Delta decreased by 30 percent, local newspapers all predicted that Vietnam would lack fish materials. In fact, they just made a wild guess. In fact, tra fish materials are abundant.


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