First export of “pra” fish for China in progress

Hun Ty Co Ltd, the only company to have obtained the right to process iridescent shark catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) for export to China, is now processing the first batch of 40 tonnes planned for the first trial shipment from Cambodia to the Chinese coast next month, according to a senior fisheries official.

This follows a July 20 meeting between a team from the Fisheries Administration (FiA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Hun Ty and representatives of the three fish farms registered with the Chinese side. . , during which the processing company confirmed that it would have 40 tonnes ready for August.

The fish, sometimes referred to simply as “iridescent shark” despite not being a shark, is one of the most cultivated varieties of shark catfish in Cambodia.

It is known in Khmer as “pra thom” and is part of the shark-catfish category “pra” which can describe many – but not all – species of the Pangasius (P) gender (“po” types such as P larnaudii and Psanitwongsei being notable counterexamples) or other genres in the Pangasiidae family like helicophage and PangasianodonBut no Pseudolais.

FiA deputy director Hav Viseth told the Post on July 27 that the company was testing a production line to process around one tonne of iridescent shark catfish per day – well below its full capacity – purchased from Yun Sovannarith Pra Fish Farm, one of three farms that have been licensed to breed and supply fish exported to China.

He said a chemical analysis of the flesh of fish to be processed – carried out by the FiA as part of a quality and safety inspection – had shown good results.

On July 23, Hun Ty started buying fish from the farm, located in Prek Pnov district, north of Phnom Penh, at the rate of one ton a day for processing and freezing, he said. said, adding that the first export would serve as a way to assess the Chinese people. preference for Cambodian “pra” fish.

Viseth suggested that Hun Ty could sign purchase contracts with the other two farms depending on the results of the trial export. If successful, he said, “it will be clear that more orders will be piling up, and we want more fish farm owners to register for assessment by China Customs to to be able to export more “pra” fish to China”.

It should be noted that Chhuon Chamnan, Director of the FiA’s Department of Post-Harvest Technologies and Quality Control (DFPTQ), told The Post on June 20 that the export of other ‘pra’ species to China would require additional authorization.

The administrative manager of Yon Sovannarith Pra Fish Farm, Um Chan Chamnan, revealed that Hun Ty plans to increase his purchases to five tons per day.

Without providing concrete numbers, Chan Chamnan said the farm and the company had concluded the current short-term contract at an “acceptable price”, noting that the agreement could last in the range of “one to two months”. due to the constantly fluctuating market prices for fish.

“The company requires ‘pra’ fish weighing between 900 and 1,100 grams, all of which must be kept alive to preserve the freshness and quality of the meat. We are ready to expand our business when our ‘pra’ fish have Chinese support,” he said, explaining that the farm also supplies about three tons of shark catfish to the local market.

Fish production in Cambodia reached 856,400 tons in 2021, down more than 8.5 percent from 936,300 tons the previous year, according to data from the 2020 and 2021 annual fisheries reports.

Aquaculture accounted for 40.676% at 348,350 tons, down 13.0% from 400,400 tons in 2020.

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