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Shrimp exporters missing lucrative opportunities   2010-06-24 - Nguoi lao dong

The shrimp export price has been on the rise and demand has been expanding in the world market. Vietnamese shrimp exporters, however, who can process top-ranking products, have little to sell.

Vietnam exports some $4 billion in seafood products every year, of which shrimp brings 40 percent of the total export revenue.


Few exporters, however, think they need to develop shrimp aquaculture. Only a few of the 300 shrimp exporters have invested in aquaculture, while the majority relies on unstable supply sources or on imports.


Irrational shortage?


According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 40 percent of Mekong Delta shrimp hatcheries left their ponds idle in 2008 and 2009 because they incurred losses when shrimp prices dropped lower than production costs and also when shrimp died because of epidemics.


Farmers have only resumed their efforts since the beginning of 2010, when they heard that shrimp prices would increase significantly. The total shrimp hatchery area is still lower by 5.2 percent in comparison to the same period of 2009, about 555,000 hectares.


Vietnamese seafood processing companies complain that they have lacked enough materials since the beginning of 2010. The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) believes that Vietnam lacks materials because, unlike previous years, farmers do not farm at the wrong time because they fear selling at low prices and incurring losses. With ponds idle, processing workshops can only run at moderate levels.


Shrimp breeders: only 1/2000 satisfied


When asked how many seafood companies have invested in shrimp hatcheries, Truong Dinh Hoe, VASEP Secretary General, gave just three names: Minh Phu, Phuong Nam and Ut Xi, each of which has tens of hectares of shrimp hatcheries.


Nguyen Tuan Anh, General Director of Ut Xi Seafood Company, calculated that they have 200 hectares and have also joined forces with farmers to hatch shrimp in another 1000 hectares.


Anh estimated that they must spend at least 200 billion dong for every crop to have 40 percent of the total materials needed. Meanwhile, the company must still collect materials from other sources.

Luong Le Phuong, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, observed that the ministry plans to build up some farms that produce parent shrimps in the central region and Mekong Delta. According to Phuong, multiplication farms must use breeders provided by national breeder farms and they should not use breeders provided by unstable sources anymore.


Nguyen Van Hao, Head of the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 2 in HCM City, maintained that they have succeeded in building up farms that produce parent shrimp in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. The farm now provides 10 million breeders every crop, while the demand stands at a huge 20 billion.


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