How to better Tra fish prices?

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The value of Tra fish exports decreases, even in major markets. This requires more drastic and comprehensive measures.

Both Vietnam’s additional Tra fish fry breeding area and the output in the first quarter of this year increased against the same period last year. However, Tra fish prices plunged, driving farmers into losses ranging from VND 1,000-2,000 per kg while farm-raised Tra fish were bought at the price of only about VND 22,000 per kg. In the first five months of 2015, the amount of export contracts registered with the Vietnam Pangasius Association (VPA) was equivalent to only some 70% of the figure recorded in the previous five months. Vietnam’s Tra fish export turnover posted a year-on-year drop of 13% in the first three months of this year. The shipments to US and EU markets decreased while the prices of Tra fish exports to the US fell by VND 2,300 per kg.

Both farmers and co-operatives are working half-heartedly. The head of Thoi An Tra fish Co-operative – Nguyen Ngoc Hai said that his unit this year focuses on expanding self-contained breeding areas to better meet its processing plant’s demand for material Tra fish because its partners bought less.

Export volume of Tra fish to some major markets is on downward – Photo: Phan Thanh Cuong

Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) Nguyen Hoai Nam said the export prices of Vietnam’s shrimp and Tra fish products posted estimated respective falls of 30% and 18%. Vietnam’s Tra fish firms had no choice but to reduce the prices as currencies in many export markets devalued sharply against the dollar.

Some exporters said that Tra fish prices fell because the consumption annually declines at this time. So, processing enterprises buy fewer material Tra fish. On the other hand, the foreign exchange rate experienced various fluctuations the first months of this year, causing adverse impacts to Vietnam’s export activities, including Tra fish shipments. Experts revealed that processing enterprises give their whole mind to harvesting their farm-raised Tra fish these days, thus refusing to purchase fish from farmers. As a results, household breeders encounter again difficulties in selling their products.

Over the past five years, each component of the Tra fish value chain has run into difficulties. Up to 80% of all of the Tra fish firms face hardships. Both breeders and businesses are taking a pessimistic view. According to deputy head of of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission Le Vinh Tan, the Tra fish consumption of Vietnam’s major markets is on a downward trend whilst there are an increasing number of trade barriers set by big importers. Besides, the Tra fish sector meets with various difficulties emerging from unfair competition among enterprises and farmers, harming the prestige and brand name of the fish. This is the corollary of overheating Tra fish development.

VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said that the State Bank of Vietnam has loosened its foreign currency management policy, which is expected to have positive impacts on the country’s exports. Farmers and businesses should keep patient to wait the green light from importers so that they will not miss a great making-money opportunity when export markets post increased Tra fish prices and a higher demand for the food. It is necessary to further promote linkage between exporters and breeders while anticipating trends and calculating cost prices.

Is it advisable to integrate farming households into a co-operative, ensure product consumption, and determine prices? The head of the Thoi An Co-operative said that it is useful for farmers to join in a co-operative, but they do not control selling prices themselves while the cost prices remain high. So, the whole society’s attention is needed to help farmers resume production, enabling them to keep their mind on price negotiation.

>> General Director of the Cafatex Corp. (Hau Giang province) Nguyen Van Kich said it should seriously delve why Tra fish prices went down, adding that many farmers do not know which Tra fish size each market prefers. Additionally, it had better work out specifically cost prices and get competent agencies, businesses, and farmers involved in the calculation.

Ngoc Anh

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