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Would a Vietnamese Tra Fish Association help?   2009-12-03 - VietNamNet/LD

Tra fish exporters are discussing setting up a Vietnam Tra Fish Association - however, many have doubts about how it can help.


On December 2, 2009, a lobbying board convened in Long Xuyen City to discuss the preparation for the establishment of the association, slated for early 2010.


The idea of setting up a tra fish association has been put forward after tra exporters believed they needed support to boost exports of tra fish which was once the key export item of the nation.


Tra fish, also called catfish, was once king of Vietnam’s seafood products. It is estimated that there are 6,000 fish farmers in Vietnam, mostly in 10 Mekong Delta provinces. Originally tra fish was only consumed domestically, but now it is reaches 130 countries and territories. The rapid export growth has led to a jump in cultivating areas and number of processing workshops.


The farming output increased from 22,550 tonnes in 1997 to 1.2 million tonnes in 2008. Tra fish brings export revenue of 1.453 billion dollars, accounting for 32.2 percent of the total seafood export turnover and makes up two percent of the GDP of the whole country.


However, tra fish now faces a difficult period. Tra fish prices have been decreasing dramatically from 17,000 dong per kilo to less than 10,000 dong per kilo means hardship for many fish farmers. Thousands of laborers have lost jobs because of the decrease.


However, in a plan on tra fish production and consumption development by 2020, the Prime Minister still emphasizes that tra fish will remain a main export item for Vietnam. Therefore, it is necessary to take action to fulfill the plan - the Vietnamese Tra Fish Association is a part of this.


While agreeing to the establishment of the tra fish association, the general director of Cafatex Company, Nguyen Van Kich still has doubts about its feasibility.


Tra fish farming is put under the management of a number of institutions, including the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the Vietnam Fisheries Association and then local seafood associations. However, no one is taking a lead.


“If there is no breakthrough then it’s highly possible that the Vietnam Tra Fish Association will sit idle,” Kich said.


However, deputy chairman of An Giang Prorvince People’s Committee Huynh The Nang said that one should not expect too much from the association right in its infant stage, adding that it always take time to solve problems.

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