With its great potential, the fishery industry will play a major role in developing a multi-functional farming model, the Vietnam Economic News said, citing a New Year article by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Special mission

With total seafood production of almost 6 million tonnes, per capita seafood production increased to more than 66.5kg in 2013. This is significant to Vietnam, which has a population of more than 90 million and total poultry output of only 4.3 million tonnes in 2013, which means that the country lacked meat resources. In the event that shrimp and fish are insufficient, the consumer price index (CPI) and the inflation rate will increase.

Statistics from the General Statistics Office showed that seafood production increased by almost two fold from 2005-2013 and by an average of 5.5 percent per year in the recent 3-4 years. Seafood value also increased from 63.768 trillion VND to more than 230 trillion VND or by 3.5 fold during this time.

Seafood exports exceeded 6.7 billion USD in 2013 resulting in a seafood export surplus of more than 6 billion USD and becoming the fourth largest excessive export item, following three foreign-invested export categories, including mobile phones, textiles, garments and footwear, and crude oil.

Frozen shrimp exports soared from 1.27 billion USD to almost 2 billion USD from 2005-2013, making Vietnam one of leading shrimp exporting countries worldwide. Frozen fish exports (mostly Tra and Basa fish) also increased from 0.6 billion USD in 2005 to about 2.5 billion USD in 2013.

The seafood industry is expected to become one of economic mainstays in Vietnam in the future.

Increasing investment and expanding linkages

These achievements were the result of the state’s strong support and the robust development of the offshore fishing fleet, which includes about 28,000 boats with a combined capacity of more than 6 million HP compared with 20,537 in 2005. However, experts said that the sector’s achievements did not match potential.

The per capita seafood rate of more than 66kg per year is modest when compared with other coastal countries worldwide. Vietnam imported more than 3 billion USD worth of livestock feed in 2013, an increase of 23.6 percent on 2012, including corn, mung beans, dried groundnuts and fish powder, with the latter increasing rapidly every year. The livestock breeding sector has not developed as fast as projected more than 10 years ago, partially due to insufficient support from the fishery industry.

Moreover, the fishery industry also lacks high-grade, high-added-value seafood, which can greatly facilitate tourism and exports. Reasons for the insufficiency lie in insufficient linkages, low productivity, low quality of products and increasing competition, said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

The leader said that the state would boost science and technology application, particularly biotechnology and information technology for agricultural production and management, while at the same time accelerating the pace of agricultural industrialisation and rural modernisation. It would also form value chains to harmonise the interests of producers, processors and distributors. It is also necessary to step by step establish high-tech agriculture-industry-service complexes, which would closely tie with farmers, and to drive toward multi-functional agricultural models and sustainable development.

By realising the PM’s ideas, not only the cultivation and livestock breeding sector but also the seafood industry would make a development breakthrough and develop Vietnamese agriculture in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.

However, apart from the government’s policies, it is necessary to expand domestic and foreign joint ventures and investment cooperation to fill existing holes in the agriculture-forestry-fishery sector, which currently accounts for a meager less than 1.5 percent of all foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam.-VNA