Dr Thai Thanh Duong
Director, Fisheries Information Centre (FICEN)
Ministry of Fisheries of Viet Nam
National Project Director
Fish Marketing and Credit in Viet Nam (MTF/VIE/025/Misc)
Since the early 1980s, the fisheries sector of Viet Nam has undergone remarkable changes. It was one of the first sectors of the Vietnamese economy which introduced and experimented with new policies on marketing improvement and export promotion with a view to enhance product value and to create investment opportunities for the development of a modern and sustainable fisheries sector for the benefit of the people employed in the fishery industry, for food security and for the benefit of the national economy of Viet Nam as a whole.
Fish and fishery product exports have increased rapidly since the 1990s. In 2001, 358 000 tonnes of fishery products were exported, equivalent to about 720 000 tonnes of raw material. This amounted to a value of US$1 777 million and contributed substantially to Viet Nams total export earnings.
The total fish production from both capture fisheries and fish culture was about 2 226 000 tonnes in 2001. This means that about one-third of the total production was exported while two-thirds were consumed domestically. Although the volume of fish exports is small compared to domestic consumption, the value of the exports is relatively high. The importance of the fish export earnings for the Vietnamese trade balance is the main reason that, in recent years, most government attention has been directed towards export while domestic markets were largely neglected. Exceptions are government programmes for fisheries and fish farming development with a focus on poverty alleviation and food security.
With this emphasis on exports, the study of the domestic market for fish and fishery products has not received the attention it deserves. Some smaller studies were carried out on particular aspects of domestic fish marketing; however, they do not give a full picture of domestic fish marketing in Viet Nam.
There is a growing concern among domestic consumers as to the quality and safety of the fish products they are offered and regarding the scarcity of supplies in some areas during certain months of the year. Furthermore, the lack of information on the marketing of fish at governmental level makes it difficult for the Ministry of Fisheries (MOFI) to better address the needs of the sector. As well, the domestic marketing also affects the performance of the fish-exporting sector given that all fish products, before being exported, have to pass through some stages in the domestic market.
These are the reasons for which the Ministry of Fisheries of Viet Nam requested donor assistance in support of its efforts to ameliorate information on domestic fish marketing and on identifying constraints and opportunities for the improvement of marketing arrangements. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agreed to provide assistance with financial support from the Fisheries Sector Program Support of DANIDA (FSPS-DANIDA). In November 2001, implementation of the project Fish marketing and credit in Viet Nam (MTF/VIE/025/Misc) began.
The project comprised four main subcomponents which covered issues related to fish marketing, credit for fish marketing and production, vertical chain cooperation in fisheries marketing and economic modeling for fisheries marketing development.
The overall objective of the project was to improve the livelihoods of the people working in the Vietnamese fisheries sector through the collection and analyses of fish marketing information and the dissemination of the obtained information to all stakeholders in the sector with particular emphasis on the support of the decisionmaking process in the Ministry of Fisheries, sustainable development of the sector, gender roles, achievement of food security and poverty alleviation.
Specific objectives were:
i. to fill the current information gap on the marketing of fish and fishery products in Viet Nam in order to support MOFI, institutions and donors active in the sector in better addressing the needs of the fisheries sector and in supporting decision-making processes;
ii. to provide access to clear market information to the players in the fisheries products-marketing channel (e.g. fishers, middlepersons, processors, market traders and retailers) on the functions of the various players involved, prices and consumer demands in the domestic market and the market structure;
iii. to contribute to the existing knowledge on how to feed the growing population in Asian cities efficiently, with respect to the provision of fisheries products and the main cities in Viet Nam, i.e. Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Danang;
iv. to develop a model, including practical guidelines, that will assist the actors in the Vietnamese fisheries products-marketing chain by focusing on vertical cooperation to become more competitive in both the world and domestic market and improve the individual as well as chain performance to better satisfy the consumer demands;
v. to contribute to the existing knowledge on how fish production, marketing and processing are being financed at present and on how marketing-related financial flows and transactions take place and could be further developed in Viet Nam, including the identification of investment requirements and credit needs and channels;
vi. to enable MOFI to forecast, under different assumptions, the future consumption and consumption patterns of Vietnamese fisheries products given different growth rate projections for Viet Nam; and
vii. to strengthen the capacity of MOFI to disseminate the available findings of this project to others interested and identify the needs for possible follow-up activities in the field of fisheries products marketing in Viet Nam.
With a view to specify the project strategy and work out a detailed plan for project implementation, a two-day inception workshop was held at the MOFI on 2-3 October 2001. It was attended by representatives of FAO, MOFI, and FSPS-DANIDA. The proceedings and results of the inception workshop are summarized in Section 3.
To carry out the nationwide household survey on fish marketing and credit in Viet Nam, a combination of a sample survey and a purposeful selection methodology was developed and survey sites were identified nationwide. Twelve provinces and cities from the three regions were selected: Hanoi, Bac Can, Quang Ninh, and Nghe An in the north; Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, and Dak-lak in the central region; and Ho Chi Minh, Ca Mau, An Giang, Kien Giang, and Ben Tre in the south.
Respondents to be interviewed during the study were defined as key stakeholders participating in fish marketing, ranging from primary producers (fishers and fish farmers) to the final consumers. Since the study focused on domestic fish marketing, issues of marketing of fisheries products at farm and fishing port levels and demand and consumption patterns of fisheries products at consumer level were the main focus of the study; together with issues such as the operations of traders, i.e. wholesalers, retailers, processors and exporters, in the market. Altogether, the study targeted seven groups: fish farmers, fishers, wholesalers, processor/exporters, retailers, large consumers and household consumers.
A sample of 2 077 respondents was selected for the whole country, 678 of whom were located in the north, 500 in the central part of Viet Nam and 899 in the southern part of the country. In addition, 85 in-depth interviews were conducted with different groups of respondents in various regions.
The study also included the analysis of secondary data using various types of sources. In order to identify and better understand fish marketing issues in the country, secondary data on the development of the fisheries sectors in past and present years were collected and reviewed, mainly from the Fisheries Information Centre (FICEN), FAO and the General Statistical Office (GSO). Information related to the sector development plans, programmes and other issues was gathered from different departments in MOFI in the form of reports, papers, etc. The study also exchanged information with the Fisheries Management Information System (FMIS) project under FSPS-DANIDA regarding the development of a database for fisheries management purposes.
Questionnaires containing both open and closed questions were designed for the seven different groups of respondents. Guidelines for in-depth interviews were also developed. Data and information collected were coded and incorporated into computerized databases using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Science) software. Descriptive methods of analysis were used to describe the surveyed stakeholders in the marketing chains, their operations and performances, using means, modes and percentages. Some diagrams were used for illustrating market operations.
The first draft reports of the project were represented at the 2nd National Workshop held on 11 December 2002 in Hanoi. Reports of the four research components were presented in Fish Marketing in Viet Nam: Current Situation and Perspectives for Development, Vertical Chain Cooperation in Vietnamese Fisheries Products Channel, Financing of Marine Capture Fisheries in Viet Nam and Module on Economic Modeling and Fish Consumption. Workshop participants submitted their comments and suggestions and, based on these, the national and international consultants then finalized the reports.
The quality of data analyses of any survey or research depends on the quality of information and data collected in the field, on the survey planning and the respondents involved, and finally on the interpretation of the results. Naturally, limitations could be found in this study due to the particularities of the demographic, social and geographic characteristics of the survey sites as compared with other parts of Viet Nam and the particular season during which the survey was conducted e.g. the Vietnamese New Year or Tet festival, which has different consumption patterns than other times of the year. Another limitation was imposed by the relatively small sample size and the limited time available for the field survey. Therefore, the data collected might not be entirely representative of the whole population nor of consumption patterns during the whole year.
All in all, the final analysis presented in this report should be useful and meaningful for the reader as it provides a better understanding of the current consumption patterns and the future of fish consumption needs. It is necessary though to conduct in-depth studies with larger and more reliable sample sizes. This is also necessary in order to verify empirically the findings regarding per capita fish consumption presented in the report Module on Economic Modeling and Fish Consumption as the figures are much higher than has been estimated by previous research in Viet Nam.
While the findings of the studies presented in this report should be seen as significant, this first attempt to throw more light on fish marketing and its financing in Viet Nam should nevertheless be followed up by further quantitative and qualitative studies, and by regular collection, analysis and use of information on fish marketing as well as financing in Viet Nam.