Vietnam: Catfish shortage causes processing plants to shut

Catfish processing plants in the Mekong Delta are working well below capacity due to a severe shortage of catfish. “Many plants have suspended operations, others work at just 50 percent capacity,” said Le Chi Binh, vice chairman of the An Giang Province aquaculture and production association.

The severe shortage of catfish has seen prices escalate to a record VND25,000 (US$1.2) per kilogram, VND3,000 higher than last November.

The main reason for the shortage is the shrinkage in farming area in the Mekong Delta by around 5 percent since last year. Many famers pulled out of the business saying they were unable to cope with the high interest rates and the relentless increases in prices of feed and medicines for catfish.

Another problem for farmers is the shortage of juveniles after they sold out their breeding fish stocks in 2009 when faced with bankruptcy.

Many processors planned to raise catfish themselves but it was unprofitable due to the high feed costs and large investments required.

“A plant with the capacity of 200 tons of fish a day requires capital of more than VND 1 billion (US$50,000) and 70,000 tons of material fish a year,” said Nguyen Duy Nhut, Nam Viet Group’s deputy general director.

Vietnam’s catfish exports are set to fall by a whopping 45 percent this year to 360,000 tons, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said.

They are expected to fetch $1 billion, $400 million less last year.

Source: Vietnam Net Bridge

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