September 29, 2009

                 
Bangladesh may surpass Vietnamese pangasius market
                          


Bangladesh can grab a large slice of the billion dollar global pangasius market, as local farms are raising the fish much cheaper than their Vietnamese counterparts, farmers and officials said Sunday (Sep 27).

 

Vietnam has a 98 percent stake in global pangasius export, shipping fillet and fish worth over billion dollars in EU and US last year at a rate the Bangladeshi farmers said only they can match in the international market.

 

With shrimp becoming a luxury food in the recession-hit West, millions of fish lovers have now switched their liking to pangasius, triggering a 20-30 percent growth in consumption in the EU markets alone over the past 18 months.

 

According to the Department of Fisheries, Bangladeshi farmers last year cultivated 2.25 million tonnes of pangasius against a nationwide demand of 2.9 million tonnes.

 

Farmers said after a massive growth in the 1990s and earlier this decade, production has stagnated in the last two years owing to low price regime as the fish is considered poor people's protein source.

 

On an average farmers in the main pangasius production areas now spend 40 taka to raise one-kilogramme of pagasius fish, which is lower than the production cost in Vietnam.

 

UN Industries Development Organisation (UNIDO) national consultant MA Mazid said the cultivation of pangasius can overtake shrimp as the leading frozen food export item, as research has shown Bangladeshi ponds and rivers are the most suitable place to raise pagasius.

 

To reach that goal, Mazid said some 4,000 pangasius farms in the country should first ensure quality of fish fries, proper dietary feeding and environment friendly cultivation - features seen as crucial for entry into the export market.

 

Farmers also admit that the pangasius cultivation suffers from a number of setbacks including non-availability of balanced food, excess land taxes and ban on import of some key raw materials.