Last update 3/5/2012 1:50:00 PM (GMT+7)

Tra fish production on decline, VN may fall out from the No 1 position

VietNamNet Bridge – Due to the lack of capital, farmers in Mekong Delta have given up tra fish farming, thus resulting in the dramatic fall of the production. If the situation cannot be improved, Vietnam may be no longer the biggest exporter in the world.

After many months of staying firmly at low levels of 18,000-23,000 dong per kilo, the tra price has moved to 26,000 dong, then 27,000 dong or 29,000 dong. However, ironically, both farmers and exporters in Mekong Delta have anticipated the loss in the period when the price climbs to the highest ever level.

Price up, profit down

Some big tra fish exporters have affirmed that with the current tra fish prices, farmers would get the profit of 5000 dong per kilo at minimum, because the total production cost is just 20,000 dong.

However, farmers said they are facing the danger of taking loss. Deputy Chair of the An Giang province Aquaculture Association Le Chi Binh said that with the current sale prices, if farmers use industrial feed, they would break even. But if exporters delay the payment for one month or longer, they would take loss. Meanwhile, payment delay proves to be a high risk, because it is very difficult to access bank loans at this moment.

In fact, exporters usually delayed the payment in the past. However, in the current difficult conditions, this could be “the final straw” which may make farmers unbearable.

Unlike export companies which have aquaculture areas, farmers now cannot get the tax refund for feed purchases, which makes the production cost increase by 2000 dong per kilo. Besides, they cannot borrow money from banks at reasonable interest rates due to the banks’ policy to tighten credit.

Meanwhile, the investment rate for 100 tons of fish has galloped from 1.5 billion dong in 2010 to 2.5 billion dong.

Not only farmers, export companies are also facing the risk of taking loss. The floor export price is 3.2 dollars per kilo of filet products, which means that companies have to buy materials at 24,000 dong per kilo. Meanwhile, in fact, they have to pay 26,000 dong, or 29,000 dong per kilo.

Tran Van Hung, Chair of Hung Ca Company in Dong Thap province said that some of the workers of the company, after a period of working there, have left the company to run their own business. They do not spend money to develop the material areas; therefore, they raise the collection price to 29,000 dong per kilo to scramble with other seafood companies.

Selling gold at the prices of scrap iron

A lot of scientific research works have confirmed the high nutrition value in tra fish. However, the products have been sold at surprisingly low prices.

Dr Nguyen Tri Khiem from the An Giang University has pointed out that though tra fish could be considered as “gold” for its value, it has been sold at the prices of the “scrap iron”. A lot of Vietnamese enterprises have been found as exporting products at the prices lower than the floor prices set up by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers VASEP, or even lower than the production costs.

Tra Quynh Hoa, Director of Hoang Long Company in Dong Thap province has confirmed that when Hoang Long offers the exports at the floor prices, its loyal clients said that other companies offered the same products at lower prices.

Nguyen Phuoc Tuyen from the Dong Thap provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has pointed out that it is really “dangerous” that Vietnamese companies sell at such low prices. Even if companies export at the floor price, this means that they undervalue the products and sell products dirt cheap.

“3.2 dollars per kilo means the material price at 24,000 dong per kilo. Meanwhile, 24,000 dong is not high enough to buy a kilo of “dua mam,” a kind of food for popular people.

Source: Lao dong