Education for Nature - Vietnam
Source: The Labour Newspaper
Issue: 298
Date: 24 October 2004
Author: Thao Nhi

Soft-shell Turtles and Profits

Up until now, models of soft-shell turtle farming have been developed in various areas nationwide. Nevertheless, the demand for soft-shell turtles grows larger than the supply. The price of approximately 200,000 VND a kilo shows that soft-shell turtles are the “Gods of fresh water”.

A large number of soft-shell turtle farmers have become billionaires because they know how to apply proper techniques. For example, Mr. Tran Hoang Mai (or Tu Mai) who lives in Duong Dong of Phu Quoc district in Kien Giang province. He is one of the first people who began farming soft-shell turtles on Phu Quoc island. At first, he had 20 million VND as his initial capital source. He was audacious to build farming ponds and bought nearly 1,000 soft-shell turtles as breeding stock. Three years later, he had 30,000 soft-shell turtles as breeding stock and about 5,000 reproducing soft-shell turtles. He earned nearly half a million VND from selling soft-shell turtles as breeding stock. At present, there are about 200 households of Phu Quoc island district following him to farm soft-shell turtles. Their lives have been considerably improved.

Soft-shell turtles are distributed throughout Southeast Asia , China , India , Africa and North America . In Vietnam , soft-shell turtles are distributed in almost all areas of the country. They mainly inhabit freshwater areas, and adapt to different types of climate areas thanks to their ability to change their body temperature. In fact, farming soft-shell turtles is not costly because soft-shell turtles eat different kinds of food such as earthworms, small fish and shrimp, snails, aquatic vegetations, ground corn, and sweet potatoes. Farmers are no longer worried about sources of food for their soft-shell turtles because the Vietnam Farmer Union has taught techniques to raise earthworms at many soft-shell turtle farms.

Soft-shell turtle can be harvested at the age of 12 months. The harvest time often lasts from thee to nine months. Apart from being used to cook good dishes at restaurants, soft-shell turtles are known as a kind of effective medicine which can cure paludism, haemorrhaging and hemorrhagic. In eastern medicine, the shells of soft-shell turtles is helps relieve colds, reduces tension, is a tonic for sperm and blood, and is good for one's health. In addition, the grounded shell of soft-shell turtles can drive parasites or wood-eaters away.

The fact is that there is not enough supply of soft-shell turtles while the demands for soft-shell turtles remains large. A number of households still have to import soft-shell turtles as breeding stock from Thailand and Singapore . Meanwhile, the markets of Thailand and Singapore are ready to import soft-shell turtles to Thailand and Singapore for meat. It can be said that the potential for farming soft-shell turtles in Vietnam is great, but it is a problem to get a trade name for the soft-shell turtles farmed in Vietnam . This requires support from the leadership. The fact is that many enterprises have cooperated with farmers in farming and exporting soft-shell turtles. Nevertheless, they have meet difficulties because functional agencies have obstacles distinguishing farmed and wild soft-shell turtles.

It is a hope that in the near future there will be a clear “mechanism” applied for farming and exporting soft-shell turtles so that farmers have peace of mind while farming soft-shell turtles.

 Please note: Translated by Education for Nature – Vietnam . This translation is unofficial in nature. The Vietnamese language version of this story can be obtained by contacting ENV