Tra breeders told to create value chains hinh anh 1Farmers harvest tra fish in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho (Photo: VNA)

The Mekong Delta needs to recover declining sales of Pangasius (tra) fish by creating value chains, speakers said at a forum on tra fish production held last week in Dong Thap province.

Speaking at the event, Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said tra fish was exported to 150 countries and territories with total revenue of more than 1.8 billion USD a year. The EU is the largest export market for the fish.

However, in recent years, exports to the US, EU, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany dropped significantly.

The industry faces several challenges, such as weak financial capacity, outdated processing technology, high production costs due to high prices for materials and low survival rate of tra fish.

A representative of Dong Thap Advisory Board said the province is creating linkages between tra fish farmers and cooperatives based on planned breeding areas.

Nhu Van Can, deputy director of Dong Thap Province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Dong Thap has the largest output of tra fish in the country, with nearly 1,500 hectares of breeding area.

But farmers who raise tra fish in the province suffered losses over the last three years. To cope with this issue, many models that link farmers with businesses such as Vinh Hoan, Hung Ca, Hoang Long companies have been established, with initial signs of success.

Vo Hung Dung, secretary of the Vietnam Tra Fish Association, said that as of June 30, the Mekong Delta had an additional 1,959 ha under tra fish breeding, up by 0.21 percent compared with the same period last year. The output was estimated at 516,140 tonnes, a year-on-year increase of 1.22 percent.

Total tra fish export value in the first five months of this year were 616.5 million USD, down by 7 percent compared with the same period in 2014.

The price of tra fish used as materials for processing plants ranged from 21,000 VND (around 1 USD) to 24,500 VND (1.16 USD) per kilo in the first five months of the year.

In June 2015, tra fish prices dropped to 19,000 VND– 20,000 VND, causing losses for farmers.

Some 10,000 tonnes of tra fish products are sold in the domestic market annually.

Nguyen Van Hung, director of the Dong Thap-based tra fish processor Hung Ca Ltd Company, said to ensure a stable supply of tra fish for the company's processing lines, his firm has collaborated with 306 tra fish breeders in the Mekong Delta for the last nine years.

Under this partnership, Hung Ca Company has provided breeders with animal feed and tra fish breeding technical know-how.

Hung said the slump in tra fish prices has caused losses for 40 of these tra fish breeders. Some of them have gone bankrupt.

Hung Ca Company has provided loans to help the tra fish breeders recover from their losses.

He said the banking system would provide a helping hand by suspending or reducing debts incurred by tra fish breeders.-VNA