VietNamNet Bridge – There were the “billionaires’ islets” in Mekong Delta, where
farmers got rich with their catfish farming. However, the populous and rich land
area has become desolate because their billionaires have become moneyless.
Billionaires burdened with multi-billion debts
Local farmers have been crippled with debts because of the heavy losses, while
the multi-billion dong fish ponds have been left idle. Big difficulties have
been enveloping the farmers from all sides.
Import countries have been trying, this or another way, to cut down the imports
from Vietnam. The exports to Russia have slowed down, while the US has ratified
the Farm Bill to restrict imports. Other markets including Egypt and the Middle
East tend to install barriers against catfish. Italian and Spanish markets have
applied safeguard measures.
Meanwhile, the catfish price has been decreasing dramatically due to the hot
farming development, which has been going more rapidly than the market
While the export prices tend to decrease because of the importers’ policies to
restrict the imports, the input farming costs have been increasing because of
the high bank loan interest rates.
One year ago, the Prime Minister announced the bailout of VND9 trillion to
catfish farmers to rescue the catfish industry. However, the bailout has not yet
reached to farmers because of the slow disbursement.
The State Bank has reported that commercial banks have disbursed VND38 trillion
for catfish farmers. However, it’s unclear where the sum of money has gone,
while farmers keep complaining about the capital shortage.
According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP),
very few farmers have accessed the bailout. Other farmers have been struggling
violently to survive, but the more they struggle, the deeper they sink in the
While the feed price and the input cost keep increasing, the sale prices tend to
decrease. Farmers have to sell catfish at the prices lower than the production
The tragedy from “civil war”
The “civil war” between seafood processors and farmers has still been violent
over the last few years. A senior official of the An Giang provincial
authorities said Vietnamese don’t have to compete with any others in catfish
exports (the country provides 95 percent of the total output), but they have
been competing violently with each other.
Seafood processing companies now only buy 800-900 gr fish. In general, 30-35
percent of the total output is considered “substandard.” The feed price has been
increasing rapidly, which has made farmers incur heavy loss and huge debts of up
to billions of dong. Farmers don’t have money left for re-investment, which has
forced them to sell assets for dept payment, or lease ponds at VND500 per kilo
The catfish price has been decreasing continuously because Vietnamese have been
trying to put difficulties for each other. Exporters try to offer low export
prices to scramble for clients, thus giving foreign importers another reason to
press the market price down.
Vietnam has determined to rescue the catfish farming and process, which is one
of its advantageous industries; after it saw the catfish export turnover down in
2012 and businesses incurring heavy losses.
Experts have suggested adding catfish into the list of conditional business
fields, and offering the 0-6 percent prop-up in bank loan interest rates to
farmers. They stressed that urgent support should be provided now, or it will be