15 Feb Viet Nam’s fisheries sector: Challenges in quality and materials
In 2016, due to unpredictable developments of the climate, aquaculture activities were seriously affected, resulting in material shortages. In the international market, importers raised technical barriers, posing many challenges to Viet Nam fisheries sector in 2017 whose goal is to remain the stable growth rates.
According to the General Directorate of Fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development), the nationwide aquaculture production in 11 months in 2016 touched over 3.2 million tons, up 1.9 per cent compared to the same period in 2015. The production from fishing also reached over 2.8 million tonnes, up 2 per cent. The value of seafood exports in 2016 is expected to hit $ 8 billion, up more than 7 percent year over year. In particular, the United States, Japan, China and South Korea are the four leading importers, accounting for 54.1 per cent of the total seafood export value.
Despite considerably decent growth rates, which had a significant contribution to the growth of Vietnamese agriculture, the fishery sector has been confronted by many challenges and difficulties. Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Oai Deputy Director of Fisheries General Office said that for the time being, in spite of the surging demand for raw materials from enterprises, the factories are in short of raw materials. Therefore, they could only operate moderately with a capacity of 40 to 50 per cent.
Material shortage resulted from the complex developments of weather, including the prolonged heat which led to water shortage, the rising temperature and high salinity that weakened the shrimp, enabling pathogens to intrude in. Also, the “input” factors such as seeds, chemicals for environment water treatment, and probiotics were not fully guaranteed. Since the beginning of the year, areas for brackish water shrimp farming over the country have been lost by nearly 60.000ha, up 20.5 per cent year over year.
Not only was there a deficit in shrimp materials, but also in tra fish materials, only 300,000 tons of which has left up to now. It is estimated that from now on to February 2017, the number of farmed tra fish in Mekong Delta is not sufficient for processing or exports. Besides, the aquaculture process in some regions did not live up to food safety standards, thus, many Viet Nam’s seafood items were rejected by some major markets such as the US, Europe, and Japan.
In a survey of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in the recent years, about 10 per cent and 30 per cent of Vietnamese fishery products were rejected and refused to be imported in the EU, and Japan, respectively. This seriously affected the export value, and at the same time, negatively impacted the image of Vietnamese seafood products on the international market.
Improve competitiveness by quality
In 2017, Vietnamese seafood sector will continue to face huge challenges due to the increase in technical barriers from exporters. Therefore, in order to maintain the growth rates, it is necessary in the coming time that the government should implement policies to subsidize farmers and businesses in farming process. In particular, the locals should focus on improving the quality of seeds, reorganizing production chain; and attaching the material zones to the processing plants to provide raw materials sufficiently for export activities.
Mr. Truong Dinh Hoe – General Secretary of Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers claimed that so as to ensure the source of raw materials for exports, businesses, and farmer households need to connect with one another to form a closed chain. Additionally, the government should establish policies to support farmers in adopting Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VIETGAP) to strictly manage the quality of products from raw materials to commodities.
Mr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development evaluated that in 2016, fishery was one of the important sectors that helped the agricultural industry to achieve proposed growth rates. However, seafood exports were still in a fierce competition, where many countries were also placing seafood exports in the center. Therefore, the domestic enterprises should actively stay updated with regulations on food safety standards of the exporters as well as regulations on labeling, and quality packaging.
It should be noted that the local authorities need strengthen inspection and supervision on input materials, and exercise propaganda about appropriate aquaculture procedures to ensure food safety. As for fishing, the essence is that fishermen and businesses should promote the application of science – technology to post-harvest preservation, organize chain-production to enhance efficiency. Enterprises should be proactive in investment, and elevate the quality of their products as required for them to survive in all markets.
Source: Diem Khanh – tongcucthuysan.gov.vn