The Directorate of Fisheries forecasts a shortage of raw materials for export basa processing in the first quarter of 2022 due to the impact of COVID-19.
Nhu Van Can, head of the directorate’s Aquaculture Department, said the area of farming basa in the third quarter of 2021 decreased by about 30-55 per cent on year because aquaculture activities were suspended in many Mekong Delta provinces due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
With a sharp reduction in the farming area, the industry is likely to lack raw materials for export processing in the first quarter of 2022, according to Can.
Therefore, after the Government’s Resolution 128/NQ-CP on temporary regulations for safe, flexible adaptation to and effective control of COVID-19, basa farming activities have been enhanced to meet demand at processing plants which have restored their operation.
“Basa producers have proposed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and those localities to create favourable conditions for them to expand the basa farming area,” said Tran Van Hung, chairman of the Hung Ca Company.
Nguyen Ngo Vi Tam, general director of the Vinh Hoan Joint Stock Company, said besides the impact of COVID-19, the challenges for the basa industry next year included increasing price of feed, shortage of labour and higher electricity prices.
“Basa fish processing enterprises have had support in reducing electricity bills but the basa fish producers have not. This has greatly affected farmers and enterprises producing raw material of basa. The basa fish producers need this support,” said Tam.
She has also suggested the MARD start a supportive programme in terms of fingerling for the basa fish producers, ensuring supply of better quality varieties.
By this year-end, the fishery industry would remove difficulties caused by the COVID-19 to restore production. The industry would enhance production of the fingerling and input materials to supply fingerling for basa fish producers in the first quarter next year, according to the ministry.
MARD Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien said: “The industry needs to have specific, synchronous and timely solutions to develop the farming of basa. That would ensure food quality and safety for the consumption in the last month of 2021, and raw materials for export processing in the first months of 2022.”
Accordingly, the provinces need to have appropriate policies to develop basa fish farming areas associated with processing facilities and consumption enterprises. This cooperation will help the producers regulate production according to market demand.
The localities need to implement solutions on supporting basa fish producers affected by COVID-19, such as reducing electricity prices, taxes, and fees and providing soft loans, to ensure the stability of the basa production chain and control of food quality and safety, Tien said.
He has requested the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Quality Control to control quality and food safety at basa farming regions, meeting quality requirements of export markets. Besides that, the department needs to promote measures on recovering the export of basa products to the Saudi Arabian market.
The Department of Agricultural Products Processing and Market Development updates market information for enterprises and farms. That will help the producers have suitable production plans.
Associations, enterprises and business facilities in basa production chains need to develop production scenarios in the pandemic period and build brand and sustainable development strategies.
Meanwhile, Tien also proposed the enterprises diversify products according to market needs and promote electronic transactions during the pandemic.
They also need to comply with regulations on the use of chemicals and antibiotics in basa farming, product quality and traceability.
Besides that, localities should promote linkage between processing enterprises with small basa farms to ensure stable production.
According to the General Department of Fisheries, the output of basa in 2021 is estimated to reach about 1.5 million tonnes, the same output in 2020. Basa export value is estimated at over US$1.5 billion this year.
The basa industry has set ambitious goals for next year of basa output at over 1.7 million tonnes and export value of US$1.6 billion.