|This has helped many of them escape poverty by farming shrimp, crab, and blood cockles.— Photo tinmoitruong
HCM CITY (VNS) — Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces of Kien Giang are earning stable incomes by breeding aquatic species in submerged coastal forests and around islands.
Of the 6,000ha of coastal forests stretching from Ha Tien town to the Ca Mau Peninsula, Kien Giang authorities have allocated a certain portion to local households to manage, protect, and develop.
They are allowed to use 30 per cent of the water surface in their forests to breed fish and other creatures.
Besides, the Kien Giang Province Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Centre provides the families financial support and breeding techniques.
This has helped many of them escape poverty by farming shrimp, crab, and blood cockles.
Nguyen Hoang Luong, who received 6ha of forest in 2012 in Xeo La 2 hamlet in An Minh District, said he bred blood cockles in a 2ha area.
The centre has provided him a grant of VND20 million (US$950) and taught him how to breed the mollusc.
He earned VND400 million ($19,000) a year.
Vo Hoang Viet, head of the An Minh District Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said breeding aquatic creatures in coastal forests was a natural farming model since the animals did not have to be fed, resulting in low costs.
Breeding of blood cockles was well developed in his area, he said.
The bureau planned to develop this model in other places and create a brand name for An Minh blood cockles to create stable markets, he said.
Farming of shrimp, fish, crabs, blood cockles, clams, and other creatures in coastal areas and breeding fish in cages around islands are developing well in the province.
With its 140 islands of various sizes, Kien Giang has among the largest number of floating cages in the country for breeding fish and other creatures.
In Kien Luong, Kien Hai, and Phu Quoc districts and Ha Tien town, farmers breed high-value fish and other species in cages including cobia fish, spotted grouper, black-spot grouper, pilot fish, yellow croaker, red snapper, and lobsters, mostly for export.
Phan Nham Dan, who has 10 floating cages each measuring 16sq.m and 100 cobia fish in Bai Chuong hamlet in Phu Quoc District's Hon Thom Commune, said the water here was clean and the fish grew rapidly.
Each cage could fetch a profit of VND50 million ($2,380) a year, he said.
Each crop of cobia fish takes one year to harvest and the fish can weigh 9-10 kilogramme each.
But the high cost of the cages is an obstacle that prevents them from expanding this model, according to farmers. A 16sq.m cage costs around VND150 million ($7,100).
To sustainably develop the model, Kien Giang has zoned fishing areas and plans to set up centres to produce fish fry and create policies to support farmers set up the cages.
The zones for the cage model are Kien Luong, Kien Hai, and Phu Quoc districts and Ha Tien town, which will have 1,500 of the cages with an annual output of 2,000 tonnes by 2015, going up to 3,000 cages and of 6,000 tonnes five years later.
Farmers in the province now have more than 900 cages. —VNS