BEING the main export market
for rohu fish, Saudi Arabia’s suspension
of fish imports from Myanmar,
beginning from April, has
affected rohu fish suppliers, due to
the declining price of their trade.
The export and local markets are having a low business, although about 600,000 viss (one viss equals 3.6 lb) of rohu fish are being currently supplied to various fish depot markets every day.
“The supply is stable but the demand is low. The main reason is because Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended its fish imports from Myanmar. Sometimes, we have to reduce the price so that whatever fish is left, they would not get spoilt,” said U Hsan Htike, the owner of Man Thit fish depot.
Recently, the price of rohu fish has declined by about Ks 100 than in the past, depending on the size of the fish. “This year, some of the fish suppliers did not receive any profit. Therefore, they cannot afford to run their business next year. This is because 90 per cent of fish suppliers are running their business with loans taken.
At present, they cannot repay back 20 per cent of their loans because of the prevailing situation.
Fish suppliers could face many challenges if this kind of situation re-occurs. We wish Saudi Arabia to end its fish import suspension by the end of this year,” he added.
Myanmar keeps only 25 per cent of rohu fish for local consumption and exports the remaining 75 per cent to Saudi Arabia, UAE, as well as Bangladesh.
Myanmar exports farmed fish to Saudi Arabia, accounting for 30 per cent of its farm-raised fish exports and 40 per cent of rohu exports.
At the beginning of 2017, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) detected white-tail disease (WTD) in freshwater prawns. Therefore, Saudi Arabia decided to temporarily suspend its fish and prawn imports from Myanmar, according to the OIE announcement. Saudi Arabia has an ongoing suspension of aquaculture products from Viet Nam,
Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, giving the WTD as an excuse, although there are no more cases reported.
There have been several discussions between the Ministry of Commerce and officials from Saudi Arabia, after the country suspended its fish imports from Myanmar. As member countries of the World Trade Organization, representatives from both sides have already met with each other. During the meeting, officials from Saudi Arabia stated that they will come to check the fishing hatchery areas, fish depots and frozen rooms in Myanmar, although the visits have not been materialized yet.
“Saudi Arabia is still suspending fish imports, although there are no more disease cases.
We have requested Saudi Arabia that we will not export prawns, if they have any suspicion on prawns, but that Myanmar should be allowed to continue with its fish exports. We know that an inspection team will visit Myanmar, but we don’t know when,” said U Win Kyaing, General Secretary of the Myanmar Fishery Federation.
Rohu fish hatcheries are found mostly in Twantay, Dedaye, Maubin, Kyaiklat, Pantanaw, Nyaungdon, Hlegu, Htantabin, Taikkyi, Letpadan, Bago, Kayan townships.
Currently, local suppliers do not have plans to breed another species of fish in place of rohu fish, said U Hsan Htike.
“It’s a little bit difficult to breed another species. Depending on its size, it took us at least a year to breed rohu fish,” he added.
There are 480,000 acres of fish and prawn breeding farms across the country, and Myanmar has earned over US$717 million through its fishery products last fiscal year.