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Academic gets wild about raising pigs

Update: March, 02/2015 - 20:59
Bringing home the bacon: People from surrounding cities and provinces buy high-quality piglets and pork from Van.

Fat pigs are tasty but unhealthy, so breeding lean and healthy wild pigs has great profit potential, an economics lecturer realised, and decided to go the whole hog. Ha Nguyen reports on the venture.

Nguyen Thanh Van, 55, is well known in HCM City for developing safe breeding programmes for wild pigs and for helping poor farmers escape poverty and hunger.

Every day, guests, including farmers, visit Van's farm, named Phu Huu, located in HCM City's District 9, more than 10km from central HCM City.

In the modern era of farming and animal rearing, the introduction of chemicals in our food has caused numerous ailments for humans. As a result, the meat of wild pigs has gained popularity since these pigs are raised in a half-wild state, and their diet of vegetables is all organic, creating much leaner, tenderer pork, with less fat compared to the meat of other pigs, says Van.

Van says he invested his time and money in raising wild pigs because he recognised the business's potential for profit.

"I read books and visited many pig farms in Thailand for several years to learn the technique of raising pigs before I decided to start this business in 2007.

"I invested more than VND1 billion in building 30 pigsties and purchasing a large ground where they could live as they would in the wild. There are sties for young pigs, middle-aged pigs and pregnant sows and a special area for weak and sick pigs," says Van, adding that all of the sties are carefully managed, and hygiene is ensured with an underground water system that has been installed around the sties.

Van imported 150 piglets from Thailand to raise for meat, which cost him some VND150,000-280,000 per kilogram at a wholesale rate.

At first, he earned VND200-300 million a year, which increased to VND400-500 million some years later.

Van, a teacher at HCM City's University of Economics, has learned that the meat of wild pigs is healthy and that it sells very well in the market. He first co-operated with a local businessman named Nguyen Ngat to raise these pigs.

Van says raising wild pigs is a safe investment because these pigs have a very high resistance to disease.

People from surrounding provinces and cities have placed orders with Van to buy his high-quality piglets and pork.

Van notes that he has created hybrids of some 150 to 300 wild pigs per year for sale and for meat to supply the increasing demand in HCM City.

He reveals that he plans to co-operate with other major wild pig farms to ensure the supply of high-quality piglets and pork to markets across the country.

"I propose that the relevant agencies should create favourable conditions for farmers to develop this breeding techniques," Van says.

Well fed: Van's wild pigs feast on organic vegetables, creating much leaner, softer pork.

Huynh Hong Son, an official from the Phu Huu Ward's Farmers Association, praises Van's farm, saying it achieved a sustainable reputation as a trade brand in HCM City.

"Thanks to Van's efforts and assistance in purchasing pork, many poor farmers in the ward have escaped poverty and hunger by raising wild pigs, earning VND5-6 million per month," claims Son.

To Van Binh from HCM City notes that his family often enjoy eating Van's pork on weekends.

"The meat is quite different from what you find in restaurants downtown; it is tasty and has a special flavour. In the past, we didn't know how to recognise wild pig meat, but now I can."

Meanwhile, farmer Han Huu Chinh from Binh Duong Province says that he visited Van's farm several times and decided to buy a couple of wild pigs to try raising them at home.

"Van shared his techniques for raising the pigs: Their food, such as vegetables, bulbs and roots, should be cleaned. Most importantly, the sty should be hygienic, and the raiser must keep a close watch on the pigs every day," adds Chinh.

He confides that he intends to buy 20 wild piglets from Van to open his own wild-pig farm later this year.

Hoang Van Ton from the Viet Nam Farmers Association says wild-pig breeding has been under development in the country since the 2000s.

According to unofficial statistics, the country has 50 farms that raise these pigs.

"The rapid development shows that raising wild pigs has brought high profits for the raisers and that it is a suitable model for those wishing to change their breeding methods to produce more clean pork," Ton remarks. — VNS

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