Price rise of tra fish in Mekong Delta becomes both a joy and bother
hanguyen0409 7-05-2022, 08:29
Price rise of tra fish in Mekong Delta becomes both a joy and bother

Can Tho farmers harvest tra fish. Photo: Kim Anh. 

Multiple farming houses and cooperatives engaged in tra fish farming in the Mekong Delta are delighted about the price increase of material tra fish. Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai, the head of the Thoi An tra fish Cooperative in the city of Can Tho's O Mon district, said that the material tra fish is being purchased by merchants for VND 33,000 per kilogram, an increase of VND 2,000-3,000 per kilogram compared to the beginning of the year. 

According to Hai, at this pricing, households that began farming in October of last year would earn a profit, since input prices had not yet fluctuated at that time, and it was a promising signal for tra fish farmers in the O Mon region. This time, though, in the context of feed price escalation, it turns into a worry for Hai. 

Hai said that for the units who farm fish to the size of 300-400 grams per head, they still worry due to the fluctuation of the market, when the fishes reach the proper size for sale, he is not sure whether the selling price may stable or not and farmers is uncertain to gain profit. 

In addition, based on his practical experience, Hai observed that tra fish farming requires a significant time commitment; it takes one year for the fish to generate a profit and more than one year to sell for USD 1 per kilogram. The price is an undeniably wonderful deal for farmers if it can maintain, however, if it returns to a downward trend, farmers will struggle or even despair. 

In contrast to O Mon district, the price of material tra fish in the Thot Not district of Can Tho City was recorded at VND 30,000 per kilogram, a decrease of VND 3,000 per kilogram from the month preceding the vacation. 

Mr. Chuong Van Khanh, an experienced tra fish farmer in the district of Thot Not, said that he has 5 hectares of water surface for tra fish farming and sells between 2,000 and 3,000 tons of fish annually. But never a minute did he think about running risks as the business is hardly recovered from the loss. 

Khanh believes that since tra fish is not a gold hub nor a rice granary, it is preferable to sell fish at the appropriate size according to the needs of companies rather than waiting for the price to increase. The larger the size of the fish, the more difficult it is to sell and the more feed must be invested. 

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) forecasts that the shortage of material tra fish will continue until at least the end of the second quarter of 2022. Photo: Kim Anh.

And in An Giang province, which is known as the tra fish capital, where the price of raw fish has skyrocketed, residents are more worried than delighted. Mr. Nguyen Van Tan, a tra fish farmer from the commune of Vinh Thanh Trung in the district of Chau Phu in the province of An Giang, stated, "Over the years, tra fish farming has been a source of loss for many people. Due to the difficulty of accessing finance, the most eligible families in the district of Chau Phu have reduced the number of ponds, unable to incur risks. 

According to Mr. Ngo Van Dau, in Phu Thanh commune, Phu Tan district, An Giang province, 12 hectares of ponds were devoted to the cultivation of material tra fish, yielding a yearly production of over 2,000 tons and generating annual earnings of more than VND 1 billion. However, he is also reducing the number of ponds by a negligible amount, so he is also paying for the price of fish to rise or fall. 

According to statistics from the General Department of Fisheries, the new tra fish farming area at the end of March 2022 was only 94% of what it was during the same time the previous year. The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) anticipates that the lack of raw materials will last at least until the end of the second quarter of 2022. 

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the price of material tra fish with a size range of 0.7 to 0.8 kg/fish fluctuates between VND 31,000 and 32,500 per kg; for the size range of 1 to 1.2 kg/fish, the price ranges from VND 32,000 to 34,500 /kg, an increase from VND 8,000 to 10,000 /kg over the same time period and approximately 20 percent higher than the end of 2021. 

The rising cost of material fish causes the average export price of frozen tra fish fillets to rise from USD 3.2/kg to USD 3.4/kg. In which, the average export price to the U.S. market was the greatest and rose significantly to over USD 4.5 per kilogram, it was the highest. In the first quarter of 2022, tra fish exports surged by about 90 percent over the same time the previous year, contributing to approximately 27 percent of the entire value of seafood exports from the nation. 

In the second quarter of 2022, it is anticipated that tra fish exports to major markets will continue to maintain a high growth rate due to increased and stable consumption demand as a result of competitive tra fish prices, and may fill the gap in some segments where whitefish products from Russia are in short supply.

Authors: Kim Anh - Trong Linh

Translated by Linh Linh