|Dried-fish processing villages in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta are always busy during the Tết holiday season. VNS Photo Văn Châu
HCM CITY The month before Tết (Lunar New Year), which will fall on January 25, are the busiest for residents of Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta craft villages since demand for traditional specialties spike.
Villagers in Nem Lai Vung (fermented pork roll) craft village in Đồng Tháp Province's Lai Vung District are working overtime to ensure adequate supply as orders for the product skyrocket.
Nguyễn Thị Ngân, the owner of Nem Lai Vung production unit Út Thắng, said since the New Year holidays would see peak demand, her production establishment had to hire more workers.
“Since last month the facility has had to increase capacity to ensure sufficient spring rolls supply to dealers. Currently, the average production is 4,000-5,000 rolls per day, three times the normal rate.”
Dried-fish processing villages in the delta are also busy.
They produce various kinds of dried marine and freshwater fish and shrimp, with snakeskin gourami, tra and shrimp being their specialities.
In Cà Mau Province, Cái Đôi Vàm village in the town of the same name has increased production since early this month to ensure it can meet demand.
Trần Thị Thanh, whose family has been making dried fish for nearly seven years, said producers were operating at full capacity now.
“My family is increasing production to two or three times the normal volume.
“Thanks to this traditional occupation, many families in the village have a stable and good income.”
Production establishments are each supplying two to three tonnes of dried fish to the market a day.
It is a very old occupation in the town, with fishermen traditionally keeping aside a part of their catch to make dried fish to sell later.
The high profits the product offered had attracted more and more households to the business, she said.
“The village’s dried marine fish are sold to other provinces and also exported.”
They cost an average of VNĐ80,000-150,000 (US$3.5– 7) per kilogramme.
Cái Đôi Vàm, one of the largest villages making the product in Cà Mau Province, has more than 100 households and companies making various kinds of dried fish, including anchovy, lizardfish, silver croaker and creamfish.
Dried creamfish is considered a specialty of the town and was even granted a collective brand by the National Office of Intellectual Property last year.
The periods before and after Tết are also the main season for catching the fish.
Cà Mau Province’s dried shrimp is also in high demand with production establishments in Ngọc Hiển District’s Rạch Gốc Town operating at full capacity.
In Đồng Tháp Province’s Tam Nông District, 15 dried fish making establishments in Phú Thọ Commune each produces about 250kg of dried snakehead and snakeskin gourami, two times the amount last year.
Trần Thị Trung, owner of an establishment, said the stages of making dried fish included cleaning, removing bones, marination and drying.
Snakehead sells for VNĐ150,000-180,000 ($7-7.2) and is expected to rise closer to Tết, according to local producers.
In An Giang Province, Khánh An village in An Phú District’s Khánh An Commune is famous for its freshwater varieties like tra, snakeskin gourami and snakehead.
Its dried snakeskin gourami is sold mostly to HCM City and tourists visiting the province’s famous Bà Chúa Xứ Temple in Châu Đốc Town.
According to Trần Thị Hồng, owner of a production establishment, snakeskin gourami has less fat than many other types of fish and so, when dried, can be preserved for a long time.
Sometimes people come to the commune to buy this product to send to relatives living overseas.
The village produces around 3,000 tonnes a year.
Producers of bánh Tét (cylindrical glutinous rice cake filled with green bean paste and pork) are also working hard to meet demand.
Trần Kim Lý in Trà Vinh Province's Cầu Ngang District, said orders, particularly for delivery a day or two before Tết, were increasing.
Customers from as far away as Đồng Nai and Bình Dương provinces had placed orders, she added. VNS