From the fish sold in the countryside market, pangasius has grown into the main export seafood product of the country. Overcoming many ups and downs, so far the pangasius has been on the table in many countries around the world, bringing billions of dollars worth of value to the country.
It is estimated that in 2022, Vietnam's pangasius exports will reach over $2.4 billion for the first time.
Journey to conquer the world
In the early days of December, we went to the "capital of pangasius" Hong Ngu, Dong Thap to learn about the story of the people who paved the way for the pangasius industry that day.
According to Mr. Nguyen Trang Su, living in Binh Thanh commune, Hong Ngu city - one of the longtime fish farmers of this city, in the 2000s, people mainly raised fish in cages and rafts along large rivers to raise catfish such as basa. Then, due to the depletion of fingerlings and unstable water sources... farmers started to switch to raising pangasius, bringing it from the river to the pond for large-scale production.
Pangasius farmers in the early stages have many advantages due to low cost and high selling price. However, after that, the market declined, and the price of pangasius for export decreased continuously, causing many farmers to lose their jobs or have to recalculate how to raise them.
Up to now, Mr. Su's family is raising 20 pangasius ponds on an area of about 25 hectares of water. All ponds are issued with codes, ensuring quality standards. "Different from before, now in order to make a profit, farmers have to calculate, consider, regulate food, control disease, and reduce waste," said Mr. Su.
According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), from 2000 onwards pangasius farming in the Mekong Delta began to form large concentrated farming areas in the following provinces: An Giang, Dong Thap, and Can Tho, Vinh Long... with a total area of more than 5,000ha.
In 1997, pangasius entered the world market for the first time, earning only $1.6 million from export. In 2008, for the first time, pangasius export turnover reached over $1 billion. 10 years later, pangasius exports reached a new milestone when for the first time surpassed the USD2 billion (USD2.26 billion) mark in 2018.
Mr. Tran Dinh Luan - Director General of the Directorate of Fisheries - affirmed that pangasius is the main export product of the agricultural industry. With the absolute advantage of the natural conditions of the Mekong Delta, the pangasius industry is constantly developing and becoming a famous global industry. In 2022, pangasius output is expected to reach 1.68 million tons, with an export turnover of over $2.4 billion - a historical record of the industry.