I met Mr. Luan at the sunny noon in March, the peak of dry season in Mekong delta, when the shrimp ponds were drying to be ready for the coming new shrimp farming crop in April. Mr. Luan, 59 years old, is a typical shrimp farmer in Mekong delta. All aspects of his family are attached to shrimp ponds, from money for daily meals to paying education cost for kids are money from their shrimp ponds, all his daily activities are happened around the shrimp ponds so that he could talk about the shrimp to me all day long.

As he said, in recent years, the livelihood of his family and a lot of other families faced lots of difficulties because shrimp disease happened more often and unpredicted. In addition, the price of shrimp feed, medicine, chemical increased and were unstable. Before, a lot of shrimp farmers had earned good profit, even become rich , now they went broke.

In order to mitigate the above risks, Cooperative 14/10 where Mr. Luan is Director has linked with a processing company and other feed, medical/chemical suppliers since September 2016 with the facilitation from SusV project and Soc Trang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. When I asked him about the linkages, he said “My cooperative sold over 17 tons of shrimp to Vinacleanfood Company, the price was transparent and agreed mutually by both sites, the price was higher than the average market price but not much. In the signed contract farm, it says the price will be higher at 3 to 5% than the average market price but there is not common understanding on how to calculate the average market price, my cooperative will discuss with the company on this issues. Furthermore, my cooperative members have agreed that they will start new shrimp farming crop at the same time to have big harvesting shrimp volume for joining the shrimp value chain linkages more easily”.

The active role of producers in price negotiation is normal in trading relationships but it is strange to his family and nearly 700,000 other families who have been small-holder shrimp farmers in Mekong delta for nearly 40 years. They mainly have small and scattered shrimp production, they lack of market information so they have little power to negotiate shrimp price with middle men, and finally they suffer loss in the trading relationships. Besides that, the shrimp is transferred through middle mem and then collectors before going to processing companies also decrease the quality of shrimp and finally negatively affect the Vietnam shrimp brand in global market.

The change is the good news for the Vietnam Shrimp value chain, helping farmers to have more profit, decrease risks and also help processing companies have higher quality and more fresh shrimp for processing. Besides linking with the processing companies, the cooperative also linked with shrimp seed, medical, chemical suppliers in order to decrease shrimp production cost, as he said the links could help them to decreased the production cost up to 10%. Furthermore, the linkages also help them to comply with international standards which adds more value to their shrimp.

I strongly believe that the change is only the beginning of the stage that the Vietnam shrimp industry will develop sustainably and the smallholder/medium shrimp farmers – who produce 80% of Vietnam shrimp volume but are vulnerable actors have stronger voice in the value chain.

In the beginning of 2017, the new shrimp farming crop just started, we, SusV project team will continuously build “linkage bridge – value chain linkages”, that is a great mission but also great joy with the hope that the small-holder shrimp farmers will have successful shrimp farming crops with good price on both production inputs and outputs.

Vũ Thùy – ICAFIS

The project “ Sustainable and Equitable Shrimp Production and Value Chain Development in Vietnam – SusV” funded by UE through Switch-asia program and co-implemented by Oxfam Vietnam and International Collaborating Center for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS)



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