by Thu Trang
|Group effort: Long Van Nghia (first right) nets blackspot groupers with his colleagues. — VNS Photos Courtesy of Long Van Nghia
Long Van Nghia, 34, was informally called the ‘midwife of crabs and oysters' after his success in breeding them.
Nghia, from the southern province of Bac Lieu, began his aquaculture career in 1995 and graduated from the University of Fisheries in 2003.
In 2006 when Nghia was head of the province's Saline Aquaculture Experimental Centre, the centre started sea crab reproduction.
At first, the process was unsuccessful as it was new for Nghia and his colleagues. The number of animals bred did not meet demand.
About one million small crabs were asexually reproduced in 2006, which met only one-tenth of breeder demand, said Nghia.
"We had a lot of difficulty for lack of funds and technology, as we must self-research to treat the crabs' diseases and improve the process," said Nghia.
After some months of tracking the environment, temperature and mother crabs' habit, success gradually came.
By the end of 2006, Nghia set up a farm with 40 breeding tanks and about 2 per cent of the small crabs lived, about 40,000-50,000 total.
In 2007, Nghia set up 20 more tanks and 4 per cent lived.
Today about 15 per cent of the small crabs in Nghia's farm live, sometimes reaching 20-30 per cent whereas other farms in the area reach 15-18 per cent, said Nghia.
Every month he sells 500,000-700,000 small crabs to breeders in Bac Lieu Province and other provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
Nghia also innovated some tanks to reduce the investment cost to two-thirds what it was before.
Nghia also opened training courses for owners of ineffective sugpo prawn farms to help them move to crab breeding. A total of 50 trainees of Nghia's now have successful careers.
|Crab crusade: Long Van Nghia inspects the health of a mature female crab laden with eggs.
Not satisfied with the success in crab breeding alone, Nghia decided to raise blackspot groupers.
"I try to raise high value fish that sells well on the domestic and international markets," said Nghia.
In 2005, Nghia went to the central city of Khanh Hoa to study methods to raise blackspot groupers. After the course, he tried to raise the fish in two ponds, each pond 2,000 sq m.
At first he bred 1,000 of the groupers in each pond, each weighing 100g. After 10 months the fish reached 800g-1.2kg each and were sold for VND100,000-140,000 (US$4.7-6.6) per kilo.
This year he has 12 ponds covering a total area of 5ha, with one fish per square metre.
Nghia earns more than VND400 million ($19,050) every nine months.
Many unsuccessful shrimp breeders from Hoa Binh and Dong Hai districts come to Nghia's farm to learn his breeding method.
Nguyen Van Anh from Long Dien Dong Commune in Dong Hai District is one such success. He raises blackspot groupers in two 5,000 sq.m ponds of one fish per square metre. Presently he earns VND150 million ($7,150) every nine months.
After his success in raising sea crabs and blackspot groupers, Nghia managed to raise bivalve molluscs.
"Illegal mollusc exploitation in my province and other provinces in the Mekong Delta exhausted this speciality and led to their scarcity," said Nghia.
In the beginning of last year, Nghia opened a small bivalve mollusc farm in Vinh Hau A Commune in Hoa Binh District.
So far the farm has produced a total of 15 million small bivalve molluscs over three breeding periods.
Since 2006 Nghia has received a number of merit certificates from the Bac Lieu People's Committee and the Central Youth Union as well as attended the 3rd National Patriotic Emulation Congress. Last year he took part in the province's Intel Technology Innovation Contest and placed in the top ten.
Chairman of the Bac Lieu People's Committee, Vo Van Dung highly appreciated Nghia's contribution to the province.
"Nghia is hard working and learns from the experiences of others. He knows local residents' manufacturing demands and produces the appropriate small sea crabs," he said.
Crabs produced by Nghia are adapted to the coastal provinces' environment and soil.
Nghia not only enriches himself but also enriches local residents and the province, said Dung. — VNS