Fish producers face difficulties due to high cost of feed

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Workers processing fish to export at a marine product factory. Photo: Phoe Khwar

Those involved in fish farming said they are facing difficulties due to the rising prices of feed in the domestic market.
U Zaw Lynn, treasurer of Myanmar Fisheries Federation who is also a fish producer, said, “An increase in the price of feedstuff largely impacts the fish farming industry. Producers have to spend an average cost of Ks2,000 to feed fish to gain weight at the rate of one viss (3.6 lbs). An increase in production costs affects the market. Breeders said it is hard for them to continue their business due to high feed costs. Some of them are struggling to carry on with fish breeding.”
The current prices of major feed ingredients such as bran, maize and broken rice have reached an all-time high, matched against the prices in the past three years. Bran is commonly used as a feed ingredient for fish farming. The price of bran has risen to Ks154 from Ks110 per pound. When compared with the same period last year, maize prices also went up to Ks650 from Ks410 per viss. Also, the prices of broken rice increased to Ks590 from Ks420.
Fish producers are not only faced with high feed prices, but also a scarcity of raw feedstuff due to increasing Chinese demand.
U Zaw Lynn added that for the time being, breeders are finding it difficult to buy raw materials, especially bran, even if they have money. The market saw a massive inflow of fish starting from the last two weeks. During the period, 70 vessels approached the Central Sanpya Fish Market (Kyimyindaing) and Shwepadauk Fish Market on a daily basis. Previously, the markets saw between 30 and 40 vessels per day. This may link to an increase in feed costs, which forces breeders to sell fish before achieving the desired weight.
Fish producers say that feed costs represent 75 per cent of total production costs. Unstable prices of raw materials hit the whole fish breeding industry, resulting in a subsequent decrease in production that may impact the country’s exports and local consumption in the long run.
Dr Thet Hmu, chairman of Myanmar Aqua Feed Association, said that Myanmar uses broken rice, bran, groundnut oil cake, sesame and maize as ingredients in the fish farming industry. The neighbouring China continues to purchase these raw materials through border points of entry. This is why feed costs are high in the market this year. It is very hard to buy groundnut oil cake and sesame in the market as only 10 per cent of local oil mills can operate at full capacity.
“The problem relating to China’s excessive imports of maize has already been reported to the respective officials. The Myanmar Fisheries Federation pointed out that Myanmar produced 2.1 million tonnes of maize last year. Of them, 1.2 million tonnes went to China. The 900,000 tonnes left in the market are insufficient for local consumption,” he added.
He went on to say that Myanmar imported 130 containers of feedstuff from Viet Nam last year. It decreased to 79 containers this year, as local demands are declining due to high feed costs, a decline in fish prices and low fish production. Raw feedstuff has been collected from southern and northern Shan State, as well as the Ayeyarwady, Mandalay and Sagaing regions, with 70 per cent of raw materials produced from Shan State. Although there are over 20 poultry feed plants in the country, there are only six fish feed production plants nationwide. The majority of plants use broken rice, bran, groundnut oil cake, and maize as raw materials. According to a survey, there are over 48,000 acres of fish and prawn ponds in the country.

 

By May Thet Hnin

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