Tống Hữu Châu introduces a rare discus variety at an exhibition area of his farm in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo
HCM CITY — Thanks to advanced science and technology, Tống Hữu Châu, an owner of a fish farm in HCM City’s District 12, has built a brand for his ornamental fish and his products have been exported to the US and EU.
He is known as an excellent farmer who has not only succeeded in fish farming but also helped train thousands of farmers in the city and other localities about the trade.
The 64-year-old said the turnover from his farm tops VNĐ2.5 billion (US$108,200) per year.
He has faced a lot of challenges over the past 30 years but with determination and desire to learn new farming methods, he has gained success.
After graduating from Agriculture University in 1980, he worked in aquaculture for farms like Bình Phú and Đầm Sen Fish Farm for more than 10 years.
He recognised the demand for juvenile fish and ornamental fish was rising but few people were part of the trade, so he quit his job and moved to outside the city to buy land to raise fish.
“It was in 1991, I bought more than 3,500sq.m of land in a low-lying area, surrounded by lakes and trees,” Châu recalled.
“There was no electricity and no clean water in that area.”
Every day, he worked from dusk till dawn, using a shovel to make a fishing pond.
After the pond was finished, he borrowed VNĐ9 million to buy baby cá trê (yellow catfish).
Several years later, millions of juvenile fish have been produced and supplied to the market thanks to his extensive knowledge learnt at the university and experience accumulated over the years.
Not satisfied with success in yellow fish farming, in 2001, Châu decided to try ornamental fish farming. He collected and bred fish like discus, carp and koi.
Within a year, his farm became famous and he received orders from many customers, including some in Chinese Taiwan.
The convenience of online trading prompted Châu to launch an website chautongfishfarm.com, given many of his customers are from abroad.
Today, the Châu Tống brand is strongly established in demanding Western markets and orders flow in continuously.
The farm has nearly 60 varieties of fish in 600 large aquariums.
Between 2-2.5 million of ornamental fish have been exported to the US, Chinese Taiwan, France and Canada each year, he said, adding that Châu Tống Fish Farm has been authorised to export ornamental fish to the US since 2008.
His farm was one of the first four farms in the country to pioneer in using biological security procedures, including strict design, hygiene and waste-treatment requirements to improve the quality of fish.
“I want fish to meet all requirements from input to output, ensuring they will be free from disease. By doing so, the products can be exported to other countries without worrying about customer complaints,” he said.
Châu said to obtain a firm foothold in the market, he always paid attention to apply new science and technology.
His farm was chosen by the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to pilot the implementation of good manufacturing practice (GMP) to produce ornamental fish.
“Given normal conditions, the portion of fish that die after delivery is high whereas breeding fish in a tank with GMP will help stabilise the fish’s health. Therefore, it will reduce the risk for customers regarding the delivery,” he said.
Training for farmers
For many years, Châu has also shared his experience in raising ornamental fish and supported farmers in the sale of the products.
“I’ve trained farmers in the city and from other provinces over the past 10 years. During the training courses, I have received many questions from them, like 'Where can I sell fish?'”
Châu has found ways to help other households sell their products to promote the ornamental fish farming movement.
“Châu did not only make himself rich but has also passed his farming method and experience to more than 7,500 farmers in the city over the past 10 years,” said Nguyễn Hữu Châu, chairman of HCM City Farmers’ Association.
“From training courses taught by Châu, thousands of farmers in the city as well as from the southern provinces have had the opportunity to upgrade production models, escape poverty and gradually stabilise their lives,” he said.
With his contribution, Châu was presented with the Labour Order, Third Class, twice in 2001 and 2016.
He was recognised as an outstanding individual in the city’s emulation movement for the 2015-20 period.
Yet, his dream has not yet been fulfilled.
“We want to convey a message to our friends working in the same industry in the world that with determination and passion, Vietnamese farmers in general and farmers in HCM City in particular can do a lot of things,” Châu said.
“Through strict control procedures, finally, Vietnamese ornamental fish -- koi fish -- are allowed to enter the European market ", he was quoted by Người Lao Động (The Labourer) newspaper as saying. — VNS