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Pangasius Quality Management and Market Access of Small-scale Farmers in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam

Aquacultured fish is one of Vietnam’s dominant export products. The development of the fisheries sector is a major source of foreign currency and employment, and its success encourages both local and foreign investment. In Vietnam, the Mekong River Delta (MRD) is responsible for over 80 percent of total Vietnamese production (Vietnam Association of Fish Exporters and Producers [VASEP] 2004). In this region, Pangasius is the most commonly cultured edible freshwater fish species. Pangasius farming in the MRD expanded dramatically from 154,000 tons in 2002 to 1.2 million tons in 2007. This explosive growth raises various sustainability issues—profit margin became low or negative as input costs increased and market prices decreased. The Vietnamese government had planned a Pangasius farming area of 8,600 hectares (ha) with 1.25 million tons of live fish in 2010. It is now planning to increase the farming area to 13,000 ha with 1.85 million tons of live fish in 2020. Increased export market access for high-quality food products is an important avenue for the diversification of Vietnam’s agricultural sector. It is also essential for sustainable rural economic growth and poverty reduction (World Bank 2006, 2008). This is true especially for sectors with high degrees of smallholder involvement. Smallholder farmers in developing countries, particularly in Vietnam, face a number of technical and managerial constraints that limit their participation in an exportoriented supply chain (Narayanan and Gulati 2002; Torero and Gulati 2004; Van der Meer 2006; Khoi et al. 2008). The international markets demand that fishery product exporters ensure clean and safe goods for consumers. The need for more stringent quality assurance has resulted in a shift towards company-owned farms and vertical coordination. However, the involvement of smallholders could be an important policy instrument for poverty reduction as fish production in Vietnam is relatively widespread among smallholders, many of whom cater to export markets (Loc 2006; Sinh and Phuong 2006). This research aimed to design an effective export-oriented Pangasius supply chain based on small-scale farming systems. It explored how smallscale farmers could benefit from emerging opportunities in the Vietnamese fish industry.


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