Tra fish famers, exports hit hard by Covid-19 pandemic

Wednesday, Oct 07, 2020 19:32

Tra (pangasius) fish prices have dropped sharply. — VNS Photo

Tra (pangasius) fish prices have dropped to their lowest levels in 11 years since exports have been hit by Covid-19, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

In July last year, tra fish had hit the lowest levels in 10 years, with the wholesale price in the Mekong Delta falling by VND2,000 per kilogramme from a month earlier to VND22,000-23,000 (US$0.95-1) for type one fish (weighing 800-900g), according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s agricultural market development and processing department.

The situation this year is even worse, with the wholesale price of tra now only around VND20,000, and farmers having to run around to finding buyers.

Many pangasius farming households and export firms have suffered as a result of the falling prices and stagnant export markets.

This year, exports of the country’s two main seafood products, tra fish and shrimp, have been down sharply.

Tra exports have been particularly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first half of the year, they were down 31 per cent to US$612.3 million, according to VASEP.

Shipments to all 10 leading markets decreased, including by 15.5 per cent year-on-year to China, 24.4 per cent to the US and 36.6 per cent to the EU.

Declining new orders, high inventories and low export prices have caused profits of businesses and fish-farming households to plummet, with many even suffering losses, VASEP said.

Tran Van Ngoan, a tra fish farmer in Hau Giang Province’s Phung Hiep District, said he has had to take his fish to the roadside to sell.

He can only sell around a hundred kilogrammes a day while his output is 50 tonnes this season.

Phan Thanh Phong, a tra farmer in Hau Giang Province’s Phung Hiep District, said his family has 40 tonnes for export.

Normally the fish is harvested to sell to export processing plants when it reaches a weight of 0.8-1kg, but his fish is now more than six months old and weighs 1.4kg but there are no buyers, he said.

He had to run around to find a company that agreed to buy the fish for VND19,000 per kilogramme, making him lose VND3,000-VND4,000 per kilogramme.

Besides households, fish companies also suffered losses due to falling export prices and lack of orders.

According to VASEP, the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly affected the global seafood industry, leading to a reduction in demand and causing orders to shrink by 35-50 per cent.

The Dong Thap Province-based Vinh Hoan Company said that second-quarter profit halved to VND215 billion ($9.2 million) year-on-year.

Nam Viet Corporation saw second-quarter profit decrease by 79 per cent year-on-year to VND32 billion.— VNS

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