|Free-range ducks in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap's Thanh Binh District. A concentrated breeding model has brought in huge profits for local farmers. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Tri
DONG THAP (VNS)— At the age of 16, Le Ngoc Moi from My Hao Commune, Dong Thap Province began his career as a free-range duck farmer. Traditionally, in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta area, duck farmers walked their herds from commune to commune to feed the ducks with weeds from post-harvest rice paddies.
He was told by neighbours that he would struggle to make a living as a duck farmer.
"Friends and family advised me to not be a duck farmer but I have done this job for 37 years," he said.
When he first started out Moi borrowed money from relatives to purchase baby ducks. He soon bred a 500-duck herd.
Sometimes he would walk 60-70km with the herd to neighboring provinces, anywhere he could find food for his ducks.
He said free-range duck breeders had two fears: drunken thefts and lack of customers.
"People can steal tens of duck for a drunken meal," he said "but it was worse if I had no customers or duck prices went down."
He went bankrupt when he was 24. He took his ducks to Long An Province, and sold his herd for a low price.
He wasn't deterred and after saving some money began his operation again, and at the age of 30 had a new herd.
In late 2015, he decided to shift from the traditional free-range, roaming duck farming method to a concentrated model, with a fenced-in herd.
He estimates he now has a net worth of VND10 billion (USVND10,031,625,000).
Early this year, 13 local households set up a concentrated duck-breeding co-operative, the first in the province. Moi instructed and shared his experiences with other breeders.
Being bred under the safe farming model, the ducks were given industrially-processed food supplied by Sa Dec City-based Co May Foodstuff Company and clean water from a pond.
Vinh Long Province-based Vinh Nghiep Company purchased all the duck eggs, Dong Thap's veterinary department supported the vaccination programme, and a local bank offered preferential loans to build infrastructure.
Moi has reaped the rewards of the concentrated breeding model, and hopes other farmers can too.
"I am well aware of the hardship of being a duck farmer. I will be happy if other farmers make money from duck breeding like me," he said. — VNS