Farmers stuck with tra fish as price sinks lower

The price of tra fish in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta has continued to fall, leaving large inventories of fish and causing losses for farmers.

Tra fish being processed for export at Hùng Cá Company Ltd in southern Đồng Tháp Province’s Thanh Bình District. Falling prices of tra fish are worrying farmers. – VNA/VNS Photo Vũ Sinh

Nguyễn Ngọc Hải, chairman of Thới An Tra Fish Co-operative in Cần Thơ City, said the price for fish meeting export criteria (0.7-0.9 kilo a fish) was VNĐ18,500-19,000 a kilo, down VNĐ1,500-2,000 compared to a fortnight ago.

At that price, farmers have suffered a loss of VNĐ500-1,000 a kilo.

Trần Thị Lan in Cần Thơ City said her family had sold 100 tonnes of tra fish and lost VNĐ100 million (US$4,500).

“Tra fish processing plants haven’t bought my fish, so every day I had to sell a few tonnes to traders for VNĐ16,000-17,000 a kilo,” she said.

Other farmers have not been so lucky, as they have not been able to find a trader to sell their fish, she said.

In recent years, fish processing companies have spent funds setting up tra fish breeding areas, leaving fewer orders from farmers who raise tra fish.

When exports decline, processing companies usually give priority to process their own fish, so farmers without sale contracts face no sale outlets and price declines.

The recent decline of tra fish purchases from several large markets like the EU and China have also caused difficulties for Việt Nam’s tra fish exports, according to the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

The quantity of tra fish that processing companies that breed themselves, under sales contracts with farmers, accounts for 70-80 per cent of fish used for the companies’ production, according to Hải.

The processing companies now have enough fish, and as a result, will not have to increase the price paid to farmers without sales contracts when exports begin to rise.

The country’s tra fish exports reached US$718 million as of mid-June, up 5.5 per cent against the same period last year, according to Việt Nam Customs.

Võ Thị Thu Hương, deputy general secretary of the Việt Nam Pangasius Association, said that it would promote sustainable development of tra fish by organising the Mekong Chef contest in Cần Thơ City in September. 

The contest aims to promote domestic consumption of tra fish and raise awareness about the value of tra fish.

By the end of this quarter, the association will also hold a seminar on SUPERSEAS project (Supermarket Supported Area-based Management and Certification of Aquaculture in Southeast Asia), according to Hương.

During the first half of the year, the delta bred 4,341ha of tra fish, down 4.1 per cent year-on-year, according to the Directorate of Fisheries. More than 545,700 tonnes of tra fish were harvested, up 2.3 per cent against the same period last year.

The price of tra fish has fallen in recent years, resulting in fewer breeding areas.

In the first months of this year, the price of tra fish was VNĐ22,000 a kilo as China imported a large quantity of tra fish from the delta.


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