The export turnover of tra fish is expected to reach 2 – 2.2 billion USD in 2018, making up 31.5 percent of the fishery industry’s total export value.
To that end, the industry will need to breed some 2.2 billion tra fishes, to be able to have an output of more than 1.3 million tonnes of tra fish products, said Nguyen Ngoc Oai, acting General Director of the Directorate of Fisheries, at a recent conference in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.
Oai stressed the need for the sector to improve the quality of tra fish breeding, create a production and processing chain to encourage farmers to team up with catfish processing companies to ensure a balance between supply and demand.
However, tra fish processors stated that they are facing a lack of raw materials, which pushes prices of raw catfish to peak at 75,000 VND (3.3 USD) per kg, up 20,000 VND compared to late last year.
Deputy Director of Truong Giang Seafood Joint Stock Co. Ong Hang Van attributed the severe shortage to the significant loss of catfish before the lunar New Year (Tet) holiday due to unfavourable weather conditions.
Van said tra fish farms are lacking high-quality catfish breeds, which negatively affects the quantity of fish during the growing process.
He added that his company, together with other processors, is willing to contribute capital to the Aquaculture Research Institute No 2 to produce tra fish breeds that will guarantee strong supplies.
Sharing Van’s view that the quality of breeds remains low, Duong Quoc Nghia, President of the Vietnam Pangasius Association, suggested the State carry out policies to support businesses.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam stressed that it is time for the tra fish sector to tackle the breed issue, with the focus on intensifying inspections over breed producers and management of breed quality.
Within March, the ministry will pass a three-tier tra fish breed project, in which it will work with southern An Giang and Dong Thap provinces to build a concentrated breed region in the two provinces, he said.
According to a report of the Directorate of Fisheries, the tra fish output hit 1.2 million tonnes in 2017, a year-on-year rise of 5.1 percent. In the year, export turnover of this kind of fish reached 1.78 billion USD, up 4.3 percent against that of the previous year, accounting for 21 percent of the fishery industry’s total export value.
As of late 2017, the total area of tra fish farming was 5,230ha, up 3.5 percent year-on-year, mainly in the Mekong Delta region.