Tra fish farmers, exports hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic hinh anh 1Tra fish prices drop sharply (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Tra (pangasius) fish prices have dropped to their lowest levels in 11 years since exports have been hit by COVID-19, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

In July last year, tra fish had hit the lowest levels in 10 years, with the wholesale price in the Mekong Delta falling by VNĐ2,000 per kilogramme from a month earlier to 22,000-23,000 VND (0.95-1 USD) for type one fish (weighing 800-900g), said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s agricultural market development and processing department.

The situation this year is even worse, with the wholesale price of tra now only around 20,000 VND, and farmers having to run around to finding buyers.

Many pangasius farming households and export firms have suffered as a result of the falling prices and stagnant export markets.

This year, exports of the country’s two main seafood products, tra fish and shrimp, have been down sharply.

Tra exports have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first half of the year, they were down 31 percent to 612.3 million USD, according to VASEP.

Shipments to all 10 leading markets decreased, including by 15.5 percent year-on-year to China, 24.4 percent to the US and 36.6 percent to the EU.

Declining new orders, high inventories and low export prices have caused profits of businesses and fish-farming households to plummet, with many even suffering losses, VASEP said.

Tran Van Ngoan, a tra fish farmer in Hau Giang province’s Phung Hiep district, said he has had to take his fish to the roadside to sell.

He can only sell around a hundred kilogrammes a day while his output is 50 tonnes this season.

Phan Thanh Phong, a tra farmer in Hau Giang province’s Phung Hiep district, said his family has 40 tonnes for export.

Normally the fish is harvested to sell to export processing plants when it reaches a weight of 0.8-1kg, but his fish is now more than six months old and weighs 1.4kg but there are no buyers, he said.

He had to run around to find a company that agreed to buy the fish for 19,000 VND per kilogramme, making him lose 3,000-4,000 VND per kilogramme.

Besides households, fish companies also suffered losses due to falling export prices and lack of orders.

According to VASEP, the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly affected the global seafood industry, leading to a reduction in demand and causing orders to shrink by 35-50 percent.

The Dong Thap province-based Vinh Hoan Company said that second-quarter profit halved to 215 billion VND (9.2 million USD) year-on-year.

Vietnam Corporation saw second-quarter profit decrease by 79 percent year-on-year to 32 billion VND./.