2:51:59 PM | 22/1/2007
BenTreProvince has endeavoured to become an industrial centre of the country by 2020 with the aquatic processing industry at the advanced level. While many processing factories in the Mekong Delta region’s provinces fall short of input materials, Ben Tre’s are opulent of aquatic materials and lack of processing facilities.
Ben Tre now has five aquatic processing factories. In 2006, the total aquatic output of Ben Tre was 105,000 tonnes while the factories are capable of processing 36,000 tonnes a year, turning out only 25,000 tonnes of finished products. With the abundant supply of materials, many freezing and processing factories in other localities in the Mekong Delta region arrived in Ben Tre to buy materials.
The insufficiency of processing facilities leads to frequently instable prices of materials. Fish farmers are normally forced to sell at low prices when wholesalers know that they do not have selling contracts at hand.
Madam Tran Thi Thu Nga, Deputy Director of Ben Tre Department of Fisheries, said: “The aquaculture is being developed very quickly in Ben Tre Province. However, most farmers do not sign contracts to sell their fish. Wholesalers usually seek weak points to force fish farmers to sell at the price they wish to. Many farmers, especially those in need of money, accept to sell although they know that they are suffering a loss.”
Ben Tre is calling for investment in developing the aquatic processing industry and encouraging the investment in building processing factories with modern technology and equipment in order to improve the processing capacity and makefull use of the local material sources.
The province strives to raise the processing capacity to 53,000 tonnes of aquatic products in 2010, which is hoped to turn out 45,000 tonnes of finished products, including 20,000 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes of shrimps with half being reared in the province. Thus, Ben Tre targets to bring in US$180 million from the export of aquatic products.
To apply all regulations on quality, safety and hygiene of aquatic products, the Department of Ben Tre Province cooperates with VOCA project to build up a model for sustainable development. Recently, the Ben Tre Aquatic and Forest Products Import-Export Company has carried out the model of “sustainable FAQUIMEX shrimp production” in order to connect factories and material sources. The factories set the floor prices and sign contracts with farmers to buy material products from the beginning of the harvest, ensuring profitable harvests for farmers. With signed contracts, farmers can buy materials for their fish in instalments because the factories will pay off all instalments by the end of each harvest. This model helps ensure the improvement of the product quality and payment settlement for the farmers at the market price. Of course, shrimp keepers will be more responsible for applying technical requirements to ensure hygiene, safety and quality of its products for the factories.
In the initial step, the Ben Tre Aquatic and Forest Products Import-Export Company signed contracts to provide capital and buy shrimps in shrimp-rearing units such as various cooperatives in Doi District (three hectares), Dai Hoa Loc (8ha), Thoi Thuan (21ha) and Thanh Phuoc (23ha) in Binh Dai District, a cooperative (12ha) in Thanh Phu District, Bao Thuan (12ha) and An Duc (20ha) in Ba Tri District.
Appraising the model, Madam Nga said: “Cooperation trend is inevitable; otherwise, it will not be efficient because the competition is more severe. At present, the fisheries sector of Ben Tre Province is carrying out a model to boost the cooperation in catfish farming, then, drawing lessons to multiply in the future. Besides, the sector also encourages local aquatic processing factories to develop their own material areas, enabling them to manage the quality of their products – a good criterion to penetrate export markets.”