Monday, September 25, 2017

Fisheries exports below target: DOF

Earnings for the 2009-2010 financial year reached $165 million to August 30, just 24 percent of the target set by the Department of Fisheries for the year, according to officials. Photo: The Myanmar TimesEarnings for the 2009-2010 financial year reached $165 million to August 30, just 24 percent of the target set by the Department of Fisheries for the year, according to officials. Photo: The Myanmar Times

Five months into the 2009-2010 financial year and the Department of Fisheries (DOF) is facing up to a challenge – export earnings are well below target.

The department’s export earnings target is US$700 million but with one-third of the financial year already gone, exports stood at about $130 million as of July 31, or about 18 percent of the target, said U Khin Ko Lay, the DOF’s director general.

“Those exports [to July 31] should be about 30pc of the target but clearly they are not. The livestock and fisheries minister has directed us to work hard towards meeting those earnings [targets],” he said.

By August 30, fisheries export earnings totalled about $165 million, or 24pc of the year’s target. Earnings were also $20 million below the same stage of the 2008-09 fiscal year, despite an additional 24,000 tonnes of fisheries products being exported in 2009-2010.

Two of the measures introduced to raise exports involve the city of Sittwe in Rakhine State. In May this year, a commodity trading centre was established in the city and then in late July the DOF started a free on board shipping system for chilled or frozen exports from Sittwe to Bangladesh.

That direct shipping route simplifies the normally complicated transportation of fisheries across the border to Bangladesh.

“The free on board system not only has the advantage of saving time but it also reduces transportation costs and improves the quality of the products when they reach the buyers.

“Using the normal land transport route to export a 60-viss (1 viss is equal to 1.6 kilograms or 3.6 pounds) or 96-kilogram box of fish costs about K50,000 but we think the free on board shipping route shaves about K10,000 off that price,” U Khin Ko Lay said.

Sittwe is famous for its farmed black tiger prawns and these have already earned about $90,000 in exports since the shipping route was established.

Another effort to increase export earnings has simply been to lift prices by 10pc over those from the start of the global recession in September last year, said U Khin Ko Lay. “During the global recession period, the price of the fisheries exports dropped by about 30pc from what they were beforehand. I think that if we just raise our prices we’ll be able to reach our export target for this financial year,” he said.