Vietnam's aquaculture sector is booming - in the past five years, the number of hectares given over to aquaculture production has risen by nearly 50%, while output has increased 100% annually for the past 16 years, said the organizers of the Asian Pacific Aquaculture event in Ho Chi Minh city in December 2013.
The country's global share of the aqua product export market will grow exponentially when the trade pact with the EU and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal are finalized, said Amy My, marketing manager, De Heus Vietnam.
However, the US and the EU markets could be cautious in regard to the import of Vietnamese fish products due to concerns over “the quality and ecological profile of the Vietnamese aquaculture production process," she said.
In this context, said My, De Heus has started an R&D project in the Vinh Long province to find new ways of optimizing quality and ensuring sound environmental practices in fish farming, while still delivering in terms of production performance and low costs.
Luca Miccichi, a consultant to the International Collaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability, said it is challenging for small-scale fish farmers to achieve a high level of sustainability in production and meet international traceability standards as they face a lack of access to finance and technical know-how.
Around 80% of aquaculture farms in Vietnam, like in neighbouring countries, are small-scale operations.
Writing in the latest issue of the journal Aquaculture Asia Pacific, Miccichi said a joint effort is needed among public and private stakeholders and certificate bodies to effectively address the barriers small aquaculture farmers in Asia face in a move to more environmentally friendly production.
Output for the aqua feed sector in Vietnam is currently around 2,5 million metric tons, and the main fish and shrimp species farmed there include the black tiger and white leg shrimp, pangasius, tilapia, carps, cobia, grouper, lobster and clams.
De Heus increasing feed capacity
Meanwhile, in terms of compound animal feed, Vietnam has an estimated yearly production output of 11 million MT.
De Heus, capitalizing on the dynamism in the animal protein market there, said it is set to produce around 480,000 to 500,000 MT of feed this year.
By early 2015, with six factories up and running throughout Vietnam, the Dutch group will have total annual capacity of 800,000 MT. This level of output, said My, will enable De Heus meet its goal of entering the top five animal feed manufacturers in that Asian country.
Like in China and other South East Asian markets, population growth, changing dietary habits and rising income have resulted in a dramatic increase for meat consumption in Vietnam.
New feed facility builds kick-started
Last month saw De Heus start construction on its new feed facility in the Vinh Phuc province, which is 50 km from Hanoi.
“It will be a state-of-the-art factory [operational in February 2015] with first phase capacity of 250,000 tons per year, producing animal feed for pigs, cattle, poultry and aqua. It will be highly automated with very high quality output,” said My.
The plant has a separate line for fish feed, a dedicated piglet line and a bulk loading station.
And its strategic location will help reduce transportation costs, said the marketing manager.
Incorporation of the latest technology from Europe will boost quality control at the facility, enabling the manufacture of compound feed on par with that in the Netherlands, added My.
The Dutch company is also in the process of building another, smaller, feed facility in central Vietnam.
This plant, located in Binh Dinh, is set to be on stream in early 2015 with projected capacity of 70,000 MT per year in the first phase of operations.
Management skill coaching
De Heus says the feed producer also aims to bolster the livestock sector in the various Vietnamese regions in operates in through its on-farm extension services.
“Our Dutch specialists visit Vietnam around four or five times a year, mainly supporting the local technical team.
The team spends a lot of time visiting our customers’ farms, helping them improve their performance, advising them on vaccination programs and generally trying to improve their management skills,” said My.