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MARD develops tra catfish plan   2008-09-25 - Viet Nam News

An overabundance of tra catfish has made farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta lose hundreds of billions of dong, resulting in 20 per cent of total farmers abandoning tra fish farming. To compound this problem, it has been very difficult to obtain capital for rearing a new crop.

Tra farmers should combine their capital to solve the lack of capital.

As a result of the crisis, tra catfish processing and exporting enterprises are now faced with a shortage of material for processing. Viet Nam News reporter spoke with Luong Le Phuong, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, about the impact of the crisis and long-term solutions for the tra farming industry.

What do you think about the current shortage of tra catfish for processing?

In fact, the situation is not severe. The enterprises have mainly lacked white-meat tra catfish and 0.9kg-1.1kg tra catfish. This shortage is attributed to the end of the farming season and to some households not starting a new tra catfish crop.

So, tra material is forecast to be lacking in the last two months of this year, especially as seafood enterprises process seafood to export to foreign countries for the tourism season at the end of the year.

We must accept the situation and find measures to solve the difficulty. Enterprises must balance supply and demand by themselves. They should find catfish by themselves to process into value-added goods.

Each enterprise should claim its own supply region or work directly with farmers to rear tra catfish.

Initially, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) tried to work with provinces to raise export prices, and then tried to increase the purchasing price of tra material so farmers had a bigger profit.

Does this situation create a chance to encourage more tra farming in the region?

The ministry has a plan to stably develop the fish raising industry, which includes all points necessary to create favourable conditions. These aspects include workforce development, fish processing, fish feed, establishment of financial mechanisms for the industry and anti-dumping policies.

The ministry has authorised provinces to set up plans for developing the tra catfish regions based on local natural conditions and environment. Guidance for the plan will be provided by the ministry, while the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for implementation.

Tra farmers should combine their capital to solve the lack of capital. One ha of fish pond area needs capital worth billions of Vietnamese dong, and therefore needs investment from many small business households.

The overabundance of tra has been partly attributed to households not implementing the State’s plan on developing the tra catfish regions.

Is the relationship between enterprises and fish farmers in the past a problem that must be solved for the long-term?

The relationship between enterprises and fish farmers is considered a great and close relationship. However, all solutions must improve all relations, including the relationship between enterprises and fish farmers, between exporters and importers and among enterprises.

The ministry will require the people’s committees of provinces in the Cuu Long Delta to check plans on rearing tra catfish, hold training courses on raising high quality fish, and encourage and supervise the selling of tra catfish by developing contracts between enterprises and farmers.

Besides that, enterprises should set up groups of 3-5 members that could combine to increase export prices for tra catfish to help with rising purchasing prices, promote consumption for tra commercial products and avoid market dumping.

What role have banks had in relation to enterprises and fish farmers recently?

Recently, banks have had timely support for enterprises and fish farmers for each concrete stage. However, for the long-term, banks should be more active in giving support and directly join the production and export of tra catfish as investors instead of creditors.

I think, each bank should have a division for researching investment and the market. The division will co-operate with relevant offices to appraise projects and give fair investment chances to enterprises and fish farmers without requiring collateral assets. Many fish farmers have business potential, but they have small collateral assets and can get few loans from banks based on their collateral assets.

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