Each tra fish farming hectare with total output of 300 tons a year requires about 6 billion dong (US$288,184) of investment for every crop, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
As lending rates offered by local banks remain high, businesses have failed to access loans for farming or feed manufacturing projects worth hundreds of billions of Vietnam dong each.
According to the 2012 plan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Mekong Delta region alone needs some 2.6 billion tra breeder fish for farming in 5,500-6,000 hectares.
Despite difficulties in local and global markets, the agriculture ministry expects tra fish exports to reach US$2 billion this year, or $200 million higher than 2011.
VASEP’s vice chairman Duong Ngoc Minh predicted the seafood industry would thus need around 26 trillion dong to achieve the above target.
He warned farmers would suffer a severe lack of long investment funds as banks can only lend them a limited sum.
Despite this gloomy prospect, the tra fish sector has been showing positive signs.
Nguyen Huu Dung, also VASEP’s vice chairman, said last year the industry recorded impressive achievements: improvement on breeding, feed and processing, with over 70 percent of the current tra fish output produced by firms or under cooperation between them and farmers.
Closed production helps firms to be more active in ensuring the quality of input material supply, controlling antibiotic usage and hygiene conditions in farming as well as saving related costs.
Hung Ca Ltd Co. in Thanh Binh District in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap where tra fish processors concentrate is an example.
This company last week started constructing two aquaculture feed mills with a total annual output of 400,000 tons that will be commissioned late this year.
Unlike other processors which have to depend on suppliers for input materials, Hung Ca produces its own raw tra fish in a farm of over 400 hectares and plans to increase the area to 412 hectares this year besides launching two new tra fish processing and exporting plants.
The company’s managing director Tran Van Hau thanks to these new processing plants, his company wouldn’t be so much affected by aquaculture feed price volatility as before.
Apart from Hung Ca, several companies, including Vinh Hoan and Hung Vuong, have enough conditions to carry out such a closed production process.