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The closing ceremony of the project “Establishing a sustainable pangasius supply chain in Vietnam”

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By Milthon Lujan

Viet Nam.-  On March 29th, 2017, in Ho Chi Minh city, the Vietnam Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC), Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Vietnam and WWF-Austria) organized the Closing Ceremony of the Project “Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Vietnam”(SUPA).

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SUPA project co-funded by the European Union (EU) through the program EU SWITCH-Asia was deployed within 4 years (from April 2013-March 2017) to support pangasius producers and processors in the Mekong Delta.

With the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of Vietnam pangasius industry in the global market, minimizing negative effects to environment and boosting responsible production, in the past 4 years, the project has supported over 50 enterprises, 120 farming areas, 130 households, 12 cooperatives and attracted nearly 3,000 participants in training courses/technical workshops. The project consulted and trained farmers to raise the survival rate, reduce feed cost and negative effects to environment in the process of hatchery and production, contribute to reducing 7-10% of the production cost in hatchery and production. The project also technically supported 33 farming areas and cooperatives to gain international sustainable seafood certification. For processing enterprises, the project helped enhancing their capacity and consulted on resource efficiency and cleaner production (RE-CP) to more than 70 plants which cut down average 18- 20% of electricity consumption, 26-30% of water consumption for each plant. By this way, the project helped to cut down VND 2-5 billion of production cost for each plant and eliminated 21,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually for 54 pangasius processing plants.

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Coordinator of the SUPA project Le Xuan Thinh said the project has enabled Vietnamese pangasius export companies to create 20 new products to serve European customers.

Despite having a modern production chain and most breeding areas receiving international certificates and meeting quality criteria of such choosy markets as the EU and the US, Vietnamese pangasius industry still faces the problem of smear campaigns by foreign media, which has been occurring for nearly 10 years in many countries, especially in Europe.

Thinh said the problem persists due to the sector’s slow response. The strong development of social networks also helps the adverse information spread quicker than ever among customers, while mainstream information is not readily available.

Responses in foreign languages, especially in import countries, are still limited, just only in Vietnamese and English, he added.

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In fact, the demand for pangasius in Europe remains high. A survey conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 12 European countries unveiled that 86 percent of respondents said they know about pangasius products and one third of them reported to buy this product regularly.

Mag Karim, a WWF representative in Austria, said European customers are willing to pay high prices for sustainable and environmentally-friendly products. Therefore, Vietnamese pangasius sector should further improve quality of products and boost communication campaigns to change the awareness of European consumers, he suggested.

To put an end to the smear campaign of Vietnamese pangasius, the SUPA management board has proposed building a quick information response centre on seafood market in general and pangasius in particular.

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Highly appreciating the achievements of the project after 4 years of implementation, representative of VINH HOAN CORP said, thanks to the project, the company has used effectively and saved 7% of electricity, nearly 30% of water and ASC certified pangasius area doubled from the original 70 ha.

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At the ceremony, the Organization Board also awarded medals to 23 units who have supported and actively participated in the project.

Source: VASEP

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