Vietnam tra fish supply set to fall 40 pct this year

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Vietnam's tra fish output may drop 40 percent this year as farmers continue to turn away from the business.

Industry insiders say that farmers will only be able to produce 900,000 tons of tra fish, this year, which will translates roughly to 360,000-380,000 tons of fillets.

Truong Dinh Hoe, secretary general of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP), expects the shortage to last until early May. 

Hoe added that it has already driven prices up sharply.

Seafood companies in the Mekong Delta are paying up to VND24,000 per kilogram, the highest price on record.

Farmers now earn a profit of VND5,000-6,000, per kilogram.

Duong Ngoc Minh, an official in charge of the tra fish committee at VASEP, said higher prices could encourage tra fish farmers who have quit to resume their business.

For now, and maybe through 2012, the seafood sector will have to figure out how to deal with the supply shortage, he said.

Tra fish is one of Vietnam's key export products. Regardless, the fish has discouraged some farmers due to the fact that it has not always brought in good profits due to fluctuations in prices and rising production costs.

Minh of VASEP said many banks have refused to offer loans to tra fish farmers for the past two years.

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