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Difficulties encircled from all sides, farmers leave tra fish ponds   2012-04-05 - NLD

Farmers now dare not to sell tra fish to seafood processing companies. Commercial banks have tightened the lending, making it unable for enterprises to collect fish. The tra farming has never fallen into such a difficult situation.


The fact that An Khang and Binh An (Bianfishco), both seafood companies, cannot make payment for fish has made farmers worried stiff. They now hesitate to sell fish to other companies, fearing that they may not get payment. Meanwhile, they are facing so many other difficulties, including the input cost increases, tra fish sale price decreases and the lack of capital, since banks have tightened their lending.

Tra fish prices plummet

Tra fish in Mekong Delta now can be sold at 23,000-24,500 dong per kilo only, while the price was 26,000-27,000 dong per kilo 10 days ago. Le Minh Chien, a tra fish farmer in O Mon district of Can Tho City, said that in the last 10 days, the tra fish price has been decreasing continuously, while the input costs, including feed and medicine, have been increasing sharply.

The production cost has increased to 23,500 dong per kilo on average, which means that farmers cannot make profit, or even take loss with farming.

Nguyen Huu Nguyen, a farmer in Chau Phu district of An Giang province, said that seafood companies agree to pay 24,500 dong for every kilo of fish. However, as farmer demand immediate payment in cash, they have to accept the lower price at 24,100 dong per kilo.

There are 300 hectares of tra fish farming surface area in Vinh Long province. The farmers in the province have been worried stiff because the tra fish price has been decreasing every day, while the input cost has unceasingly increased.

Lieu Cam Hien, Deputy Director of the Vinh Long provincial Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the Bianfishco’s insolvency has prompted farmers to demand immediate payment on deliveries.

Besides, Bianfishco’s case has prompted tighten their lending to seafood companies. As a result, seafood companies, which are thirsty for capital, only collect fish at moderate level, thus leading to the sharp falls of the tra fish prices.

Director of a seafood export company said that the biggest difficulties now for processing companies are the inaccessibility to bank loans and the higher production costs. Meanwhile, some companies have lowered the export prices to scramble for export contracts, thus putting big difficulties to the whole tra fish industry.

“Tra fish processors would face the serious shortage of materials in the time to come,” he said.

Fish ponds would be pending

Duong Ngoc Minh, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said at a fisheries conference in early February in Can Tho City that Vietnam needs 26 trillion dong to produce tra fish in 2012. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has asked the central bank and commercial banks to think of the measures to help farmers access bank loans. However, no progress has been made, while farmers, who do not want to continue incurring loss, have given up farming.

This explains why the tra fish farming area has been decreasing rapidly. In An Giang province, the fish farming area has dropped to 960 hectares, or 96.1 percent in comparison with 2011. The provincial companies have exported 19,200 tons of fish so far this year, earning 55.2 million dollars. The figures are just equal to 73 percent in quantity and 83 percent in value in comparison with the same period of the last year.

Chair of the Thoi An Tra fish Cooperative in Can Tho City Nguyen Ngoc Hai, the cooperative has reduced the farming area to 8 hectares, which is just equal to 1/3 of the area in the past, because the income from the farming is unstable.

Meanwhile, the Chau Phu- An Giang Cooperative has also said the output would not increase this year.

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