Tra fish exports estimated to increase 6.6 percent in 2016 hinh anh 1Farmers harvest tra fish in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long (Photo: VNA)

An Giang (VNA) – The tra fish sector estimated to rake in 1.67 billion USD from exports this year, an year-on-year increase of 6.6 percent.

The figure was announced at a recent conference in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang to review tra fish production and consumption and seek measures for the sector’s sustainable development.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong called on tra fish producers to improve their business operation to raise their products’ quality, reduce price to promote export while focusing on exploring the 92-million-people domestic market.

According to the Ministry, as of November 2016, the tra fish farming areas reached 4,522 hectares, producing 1,047 million tonnes of tra fish.

The figures are estimated at 5,000 ha for a yearly harvest of 1.2 million tonnes by the end of this year, up nine percent over 2015.

Vietnam has so far this year shipped tra fish products to 140 markets in the world, up four markets over 2015, earning over 1.46 billion USD. The main markets are the US, the EU, China, ASEAN, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Arab Saudi.

In 2016, the Mekong Delta has 108 tra fish fry nursing facilities and 1,856 households breeding 16.5 billion fries on 1,500 hectares, up one percent over the 2015, mostly in Dong Thap, An Giang, Can Tho and Vinh Long provinces.

According to Nhu Van Can, Director of the Ministry’s Aquaculture Department, the Mekong Delta has 4,785 tra fish farms, over half of which belong to enterprises. The rest are run by households and cooperatives.

Domestic enterprises have started paying attention to developing production chains connecting stakeholders in the sector, including fry producers, food suppliers and processors, Can said, adding that however these chains are incomplete.

Duong Ngoc Minh, Director General of Hung Vuong Group said the Mekong Delta needs over 30 billion young tra fish each year, however the quality of the young fish is poor, which affects the processing of tra fish for export.

He suggested the Ministry invest in key young tra fish breeding localities, apply advanced technology in the process and develop connections between enterprises and farmers.

Minister Cuong said tra fish processors and exporters need to work with farmers to develop brand names for Vietnamese tra fish to enhance their competitiveness.

Farmers need to follow the strict requirements in the farming area in a sustainable manner, in close link with the production chain or cooperatives and in line with the standards such as VietGap, GlobalGap.

The Ministry will instruct relevant bodies to provide supports for stakeholders and improve the role of the Aquaculture Association and the Tra Fish Association in expanding export markets.

In 2017, the sector is expected to earn over 1.7 billion USD from exports, up 10 percent from this year.-VNA