Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Farmers in Cà Mau Province breeding giant river prawns in their rice fields are harvesting what promises to be a bumper crop and are getting high prices for the crustacean since it is not the regular prawn season.
The model of breeding the prawns together with the rice crop has been carried out in freshwater areas in Thới Bình, Trần Văn Thời, U Minh, and Cái Nước districts for many years now.
However, this year many farmers have begun to breed in the off-season to avoid a possible supply glut. There are three more months for the main harvest season.
Trần Văn Giàu of Thới Bình’s Tân Bằng Commune said he has harvested more than 800kg of prawns in his 2ha rice field.
After six months, his prawns have grown to reach a size of 8-10 animals per kilogramme, he said.
The average yield is more than 400kg per hectare, twice that of the main harvest season, according to the Thới Bình District Agriculture and Rural Development Division.
Traders are buying the prawns at VNĐ170,000–180,000 (US$7.3-7.7) per kilogramme, a high price, because of the low supply.
This model of farming giant river prawns in rice fields is profitable and sustainable since farmers do not use chemicals to grow the rice or raise the crustacean.
Trần Văn Lê, who has raised giant river prawns on his 1ha rice field in Thới Bình’s Tân Bằng Commune for nearly seven years, said he has been earning an average of VNĐ20 million ($855) a year from the prawns alone.
“Thanks to the model, my family’s life is stable and better.”
Farmers normally earn VNĐ20-30 million per hectare from breeding the prawns during the season, though some who breed only male prawns make VNĐ50 million ($2,140), according to the Thới Bình District Agriculture and Rural Development Division.
Nguyễn Hoàng Lâm, head of the division, said the district plans to expand this model.
“The district will continue to provide loans and teach breeding techniques to farmers.”
It would also closely monitor the transport and sales of young prawns meant for breeding to mitigate the risk of diseases, he said.
Young male prawns cost VNĐ500 a piece while the price falls to VNĐ200 if they are mixed, he said.
Though the model is sustainable, it remains on a small scale and there is no collaboration between the various stakeholders to create value chains, according to local authorities.
Thới Bình District will collaborate with the Cần Thơ City Department of Industry and Trade by the end of this year to find steady outlets for its prawns.
Farmers in the district, the province’s largest giant river prawn producer, now raise prawn on more than 16,200ha of rice fields, 7,000ha more than at the same time last year. — VNS