VietNamNet Bridge – A new tra fish crisis has come: the fish prices have been decreasing dramatically and farmers have incurred big losses and plan to give up farming.
Merchants force prices down
“In mid May 2011, merchants were hunting for tra fish, while they now do not want to collect fish,” said Duong Thanh Hung, a tra fish farmer in Phu Tan district in An Giang province. “They (the merchants) set up the prices now, while we do not have the right to negotiate about the prices”.
Also according to Tung, one week ago, merchants agreed to collect fish from his ponds at 24,000 dong per kilo for the products which can meet requirements for export, and 23,000 and 22,000 dong for yellow meat and red meat tra fish, respectively. “However, they did not come to collect fish as promised. They have called to inform that they did not want to collect materials at this moment, because they fear loss when the fish prices keep decreasing,” Tung complained.
“They would buy the fish if I accept to lower the sale prices by 2000 dong per kilo,” Tung said.
The same thing has been happening with many fish ponds in Mekong River Delta. Tran Van Bay in Thoai Son district in An Giang province said he has “endured a pain” to sell fish at 22,000 dong per kilo for the fish for export, and 20,500 dong per kilo for the products with lower quality, which means a decrease of 1500 dong per kilo.
“I am sure of dead loss, even if I accept to sell the fish. However, the losses would be bigger if the prices continue decreasing. If so, I would have to sell my house to pay debts,” Bay said.
In the provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Dong Thap, farmers have also got miserable, because merchants try to break the contracts, forcing the prices down. Nguyen Van Mung in Chau Thanh district in Dong Thap said that the merchants now do not accept to buy fish at the previously negotiated prices. However, Mung still believes that it would be better to sell fish right now, or he would incur bigger losses.
According to the An Giang Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, the tra fish prices decreased further by 500-1500 dong per kilo last week. In the districts of Thoai Son, Chau Doc, Long Xuyen and Phu Tan, white meat tra fish for export have seen the prices decrease to 21,500-23,500 dong per kilo, while the prices of yellow meat fish to 20,000-21,000 dong per kilo.
Fish ponds left idle, again
A lot of tra fish farmers have decided to leave their ponds idle, because they have incurred losses with farming. While the input costs have increased due to the higher feed prices, labor cost and bank loan interest rates, the sale prices have not increased accordingly.
Mung has left the 1-hectare pond idle for one month, since the day he harvested the latest tra fish crop. “I have no capital for farming. But if I had money, I would not dare to farm again,” he complained. “If the prices keep at such low levels, farmers would give up the ponds, the fish processing and export would suffer.”
According to the Dong Thap provincial Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, by mid August, fish have been farmed on the area of 1200 hectares, or just 60 percent of the 2011’s yearly production plan. Of this area, 100 hectares have been left idle after the latest harvesting.
The lack of capital and the decreasing tra fish prices have been cited as the two biggest problems behind this.
In Tra Vinh province, which has seen the tra fish farming area increasing continuously in recent years, 60 hectares of fish ponds, or 50 percent of the total, have been left uncultivated.
The provincial authorities said that the fish price decreases recently have seriously affected the program on developing tra fish cultivation, under which, the total tra fish farming area needs to increase to 2900 hectares by 2015.