September 4, 2008
The price of tra catfish in Cuu Long Province in Mekong Delta is rising as supply falls and export demand remains high.
Seafood processors now buy catfish at a price of VND 14,500-15,000 per kg, up from VND 13,500-14,500 per kg in early August.
However, the current price of catfish is still lower than the production cost of VND 16,000-17,000 per kg, said Bui Huu Tri, chairman of CAFA.
The delta currently has more 200,000 tonnes of mature tra catfish but seafood processors require about 500,000-600,000 tonnes from now until year-end.
Catfish quantity will not be able to meet demand as farmers reduce production due to low prices, according to Can Tho Fisheries Association.
Fear of further losses has held back farmers from increasing production.
Duong Ngoc Minh, general director of Tien Giang Province-based Hung Vuong Corporation, which accounts for more than 10 percent of Vietnam's total seafood exports, said production had plunged by 40 percent.
Seafood processors will face a shortage of tra catfish early next year if there is no prompt intervention, Minh said.
The area of ponds left idle since the fish crop has reached 10-15 percent of the province's total farming area, according to the Dong Thap Aquaculture Association.
Minh added that catfish demand from the European and Central American markets has recently jumped by 20-50 percent.
US$1 = VND 16,472.5 (September 4, 2008)