Aquaculture's favoured status reflects the fact that marine fisheries, once the source of bountiful harvests, are now yielding fewer fish creating an increased demand for farmed raised fish and other seafood.
As a result, aquaculture is viewed the many leading economists as one of the most lucrative segments of agriculture.
But the more important question, says MARD, is whether Vietnam can share in that success story and develop a growing thriving, sustainable aquaculture industry for fish and other seafood.
Most recently, MARD concluded that with respect to tilapia, the answer is yes and passed a development scheme that anticipates by 2020 output for the freshwater fish by the nation’s fish farmers to surge 160% to hit 300,000 metric tons annually.
In rough figures, the number of full-time jobs in 2020 generated by the segment should be right at 54,000.
The recently passed Development Scheme on Tilapia Cultivation by 2020 with a vision towards 2030, contemplates that 50-60% of the output (150,000-180,000 metric tons) will qualify for export.
The plan targets to develop large-scale tilapia cultivation with diversified and high-value products for both domestic and foreign markets; ensure supply of fries for breeding; control diseases; and raise income for farmers.
By 2020, the nation’s total tilapia cultivation area will strike 33,000 hectares and 1,500,000 square metres of farming cages on rivers and reservoirs. Under the scheme, tilapia cultivation will be developed in seven ecological regions.
In addition, the plan calls for organizations and individuals to get financial assistance from the government in the form of credit loans in accordance with Government Decree 55/2015/ND-CP, dated June 9, 2015 on credit policies for agricultural and rural development.
However, tilapia production and consumption in Vietnam face many challenges, says MARD, most notably of which are issues related to lack of high quality and disease-resistant seeds.
In the southern region, 70% of brood stocks show signs of degeneration and slow growth rates, especially in salt-tolerant stocks. Meanwhile the Northern region often lacks seeds in the winter.
In addition, due to quality and the small size of fish, the majority of output does not meet with export requirements. As well, the market and the price of tilapia is unstable, often resulting in a low export price.
In short, MARD says, the industry has its work cut out if it is to achieve the long term goals set out for it.