Seafood export rushes to achieve target

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development set seafood export target at US$10 billion for this year, but after the first eight months of this year, seafood exports merely reached $5.4 billion, down 2.6 percent over the same period last year. Therefore, from now until the end of this year, authorities and enterprises must promote seafood export in order to achieve the target.
Processing shrimps for export in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)
Processing shrimps for export in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)

After declining for a long time, the prices of material shrimps in provinces in the Mekong Delta have climbed. At the present, traders and processing factories are buying white-leg shrimps sized 100 pcs per kilogram at VND80,000-VND95,000 per kilogram, an increase of VND2,000-VND7,000 per kilogram compared to those in July this year; white-leg shrimps sized 60 pcs per kilogram at VND110,000 per kilogram; and white-leg shrimps sized 30 pcs per kilogram at VND190,000-VND202,000 per kilogram.

The Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the prices of material shrimps increased as export of shrimps has been improved significantly, of which, shrimp exports in July exceeded $344 million, up 13.4 percent over the same period last year. In the first eight months of this year, shrimp farming area was at around 689,516 hectares, up 0.5 percent over the same period last year with production at 444,404 tons, up 15 percent compared to the same period last year.

Mr. Su Van Thinh, head of the People’s Committee of Vinh Thuan District in Kien Giang Province, said that shrimp is its economic strength but at the beginning of this year the prices of shrimps were low and diseases occurred frequently causing disadvantage for shrimp farmers. The prices now have rebounded and it is forecast that demand for shrimps will highly jump at the end of the year so many shrimp farming households have been zealously expanding shrimp farming area.

Meanwhile, the prices of pangasius fish continued to disadvantage farmers and export enterprises. Currently, the prices of pangasius fish fluctuate from VND19,500-VND21,000 per kilogram, much lower than the prices of VND34,000-VND36,000 per kilogram at this time last year, causing several farmers to suffer huge losses.

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh, director of Chau Thanh Seafood Production and Service Cooperative in Dong Thap Province wailed that pangasius fish farmers were empty-handed this year. They suffered an average loss of VND3,000-VND5,000 per kilogram. Amid the situation, many households have been hesitated in increasing pangasius fish farming area at the end of the year.

According to authorities, the prices of material pangasius fish dropped drastically because of difficulties in export since the beginning of this year, of which the US market fell by more than 50 percent in the first eight months of this year. Due to the current situation, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers forecast that pangasius fish export turnover this year will be estimated at $2.23 billion and fail to achieve a target of $2.4 billion

Pangasius fish is the strength of Vietnam in international market; however, development of pangasius fish farming  has exposed several risks and lacked of sustainability. Mr. Tran Phung Hoang Tuan, head of the Department of Fisheries of An Giang Province, said that one of the long-lasting problems is that the implementation of pangasius fish farming project in the Mekong Delta has not been synchronized. There has not been any measure to tackle unplanned pangasius fish farming, leading to excessive supply, causing the prices of pangasius fish to plummet heavily. This has caused huge economic losses to fish farming households in the Mekong Delta. Although fish farming has existed for a long time, the number of fish farming households which have not connected to supply chains is still high. Fish farming households which have not connected to supply chains will find it difficult to access market information, prices, export demand, product quality requirements and they will easily face risks when the market changes.

According to Mr. Tuan, at the present, in the Mekong Delta, there are many provinces culturing and exporting pangasius fish but information about production and consumption of pangasius fish as well as cooperation between provinces has not been smooth. Therefore, pangasius fish production plan is not interregional. This is a big problem that needs resolving quickly in order for pangasius fish farming industry to develop more steadily in the future.

Mr. Doan Toi, CEO of Nam Viet Joint Stock Company, said that the urgent solution at this time is to recover the market and promote export during the last months of this year as much as possible. In long term, it is not advisable to build more pangasius fish factories as current factories have already had excess capacity. At the same time, it is essential to develop fish farming area under GAP standards and international standards and train human resources for pangasius fish processing field, especially there is a shortage of skillful workers.

Mr. Tran Dinh Luan, director general of the Directorate of Fisheries, said that in order to develop sustainably shrimp industry, provinces should increase informing timely new regulations and instructions about production and market information for enterprises and farmers. They should encourage development in the direction of connecting to supply chains, concentrate on developing strategic shrimp products in the direction of reducing cost prices and increase value so as to improve competitiveness of Vietnamese products against those of other countries in the world.

As for shrimps, shrimp exports are expected to be optimistic during the last months of this year as global demand will climb during Christmas and New Year holidays. In addition, the fact that 31 Vietnamese shrimp exporters received anti-dumping tax of zero percent by the US Department of Commerce will create favorable conditions to boost export. Currently, orders from the US market have gradually increased as the US reduces importing shrimps from India, Thailand and China. In addition, export of shrimps to the EU, South Korea, Canada and Japan has also improved positively. Especially, shrimps are out of season in India so global shrimp prices have a tendency to go up which also brings opportunities to Vietnamese shrimps.