Lobster farmers in Binh Thuan Province's Nhon Hai Commune are facing big losses from falling prices due to Covid-19.
According to the farmers, in 2019, high-quality lobsters were sold at VND1.6m (USD69) to VND2.1m a kilo. However, because of Covid-19, the demands from both local and export markets dropped so the prices fell sharply. The lobsters of all quality are being sold at VND800,000 a kilo.
All farmers in Nhon Hai have suffered losses from at least VND300m (USD13,000) to as high as VND1.5bn. Several people have closed their farms to try to find another job. Moreover, the lobsters are also suffering from diseases such as milky hemolymph disease, killing 40% of the lobster population.
63-year-old Pham Thanh The who has 15 years of experience said, "My family raised nearly 5,000 lobsters but we have incurred VND1bn in losses because of low prices. The price for a one-kilo lobster fell by VND500,000 (USD21). It's so painful. Farmers are having to rush to sell off the lobsters," The said.
Nguyen Xuan Ba, head of the fisheries association in Nhon Hai Commune said he and his brother raised 1,200 lobsters and suffered VND300m loss. According to Ba, the farmers had tried to hold off from selling, hoping that the pandemic could be controlled soon.
However, if the lobsters are mature and not sold soon, they will grow old and face many diseases due to weaker health. A resort project has been approved to start construction nearby so their farming area has been badly affected by the construction activities. The lobsters easily suffocate from the lack of oxygen. That's why the farmers have rushed to sell the lobsters.
"We don't have a dedicated farming area. Several people have given up raising lobsters. Some others tried to raise the lobsters off-shore. It's more expensive and the results are as yet unknown," Ba said. "This area has a prime location that is rarely affected by storms."
Many farmers have asked provincial authorities to provide financial support to change jobs or design a farming area for them.
Nguyen Van Tien, head of Nhon Hai Commune Farmers Association, said, "Raising lobsters used to be our village's main source of income. But recently, the communal authorities asked us to stop farming so that the water surface can be used for investment projects."
For the 2019-2020 crop, only over 50 households in Nhon Hai raise 75,000 lobsters. Despite low prices, traders are still very cautious about buying.
Despite hardships along the way, perseverance has brought young man success in developing a high-tech farming project in his hometown in Binh Dinh Province.