Shrimp farmers anxious due to sluggishness in exports

The export of shrimps is the advantage of provinces in the Mekong Delta. However, since the outbreak of the Covid-19, the export of shrimps has faced several challenges.

Workers process shrimps for export in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)

Workers process shrimps for export in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)

According to shrimp exporters in Ca Mau Province, after the lunar New Year, the price of material black tiger prawn was fairly stable. Black tiger prawn sized 20 pcs per kilogram fetched VND240,000-VND250,000 per kilogram. However, the price of white-leg shrimps tended to decline. Particularly, white-leg shrimps sized 100 pcs per kilogram were sold at VND90,000-VND92,000 per kilogram, a decrease of VND10,000-VND15,000 per kilogram. A decline in the price of shrimps worries farmers in the Mekong Delta. Last year, the price of material shrimps was at low levels for a long time, causing farmers to raise shrimps perfunctorily or halt shrimp farming.

Mr. Nguyen Van Phuc, a farmer in Vinh Trach Dong Commune in Bac Lieu City in Bac Lieu Province, said that just two weeks ago, the price of white-leg shrimps sized 100 pcs per kilogram was bought at above VND100,000 per kilogram by traders but now the price has dropped sharply. Although the current price level is not too low, if the price continues to decline further, farmers will suffer losses.

Ca Mau and Bac Lieu are the two leading provinces in shrimp exports in the Mekong Delta. According to the Department of Industry and Trade of Bac Lieu Province, in January this year, shrimp export turnover reached US$62 million, an increase of 9 percent over the same period last year. In Ca Mau Province, shrimp exports were estimated at $58 million in January this year, up 8 percent year-on-year. Mr. Tran Hoang Em, General Secretary of the Ca Mau Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, said that the provincial total shrimp exports exceeded $1.15 billion last year, of which the Chinese market accounted for 6-7 percent, or $102 million. In January this year alone, seafood exports to this market reached $6.99 million. However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, many Chinese importers have informed Vietnamese seafood exporters to suspend the delivery, making exports difficult.

Recently, the Department of Industry and Trade of Ca Mau Province visited six seafood export enterprises in the province to directly study their business situation. Enterprises said that the exporting of goods to China by road remains difficult. Enterprises that export by sea still operate normally and are not affected much. However, the purchasing power of Chinese partners weakened due to restrictions on circulating, receiving imported goods, transporting, and distributing goods for consumption.

According to the departments of industry and trade of provinces in the Mekong Delta, if the Covid-19 pandemic continues to prolong, it will affect strongly the Chinese market and spread to neighboring markets, badly influencing export enterprises, including the risk of being canceled orders as countries carry out measures to restrict travel and trade. Moreover, if enterprises reduce the purchase of material shrimps, shrimp-farming households will be affected, especially in terms of cost price.

The Department of Industry and Trade of Bac Lieu Province said that the department and relevant departments will collaborate in giving instructions for the development of production and supporting enterprises. The agricultural industry must ensure the production of material shrimps for processing for export, meet requirements on farming area, geographical indication, traceability, and hygiene in aquaculture. The production of material shrimps increases then the production of frozen processed shrimps will increase, the value of industrial production and export turnover will also climb. Besides, if the export of head-on frozen shrimps to the Australian market and other markets is carried out, export turnover will be improved.

In Ca Mau Province, Mr. Nguyen Viet Trung, Director of the Department of Trade Management under the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, said that the department will closely watch the developments of the Covid-19 outbreak to timely inform enterprises for them to make suitable plans and continue to cooperate with relevant industries to support export enterprises, especially in terms of capital. He said that the department encouraged enterprises to promote exporting to other markets, exploit new markets, and make use of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement that will become effective in the upcoming months. According to the free trade agreement, import tariffs of most material shrimps to the EU market will be reduced from 12-20 percent to zero percent right after the agreement takes effect. This will create advantages for the export of shrimps of Ca Mau and other provinces in the Mekong Delta.

By Tan Thai – Translated by Bao Nghi

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