July 29, 2005
by Truong Cong Kha
VINH LONG ? A disabled veteran in the Mekong province of Vinh Long has won fame and pocketed a large sum of money through his success as a Mekong farmer raising local turtles.
Chau Xuan Vu, 50, has feathered his nest in a 6-hectare farm which is located in Phu Quoi Commune of Long Ho District. Vu?s farm is now the largest turtle farm in the country.
During the second quarter of this year, the number of turtles on the farm have matured to a staggering 100,000, including 9,000 turtles pegged for future breeding programmes.
Vu?s farm, called Phuong Nam Enterprise, has also been acknowledged as a farm of CITES (Convention on International Trade for Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) standards.
The large farm can produce a quantity of turtles in the vicinity of some 55 tonnes per year. This figure, Vu said, represents only a tiny 10 per cent of the demand for turtles, the majority of the market being exported to Hong Kong and China.
At present turtles are priced at VND170,000 per kg while breeding turtles sell for VND17,000 to VND22,000 each.
Recently, Vu shared his farming success procedure with other interested business people from across the country. He delivered a 45 minute presentation on the art of turtle raising at a seminar on management and development of the wild animal husbandry held by the Department of Forestry and CITES Viet Nam in Ha Noi two weeks ago.
Phuong Nam Enterprise has also served as a centre to provide necessary information about turtle raising to farmers. Vu has taken countless calls from farmers interested in turtle-farming. He aims to provide all the necessary information and experiences he has acquired relating to the field.
Vu also provided free materials and documents to farmers who visited the farm on fact-finding tours.
During a recent visit to the farm, Dr Vo Tong Xuan, Rector of An Giang University, said: "Vu has succeeded in building his farm to an international turtle-breeding standard. He has shown attention-to-detail at every possible level of this successful enterprise. These include his quality selection of local turtle species for breeding, the construction of a water treatment facility and creating a natural habitat for turtles."
Vu has had to overcome much disappointment before this success story could be told.
"He is an excellent example of a person who has been daring in his life pursuits and is now reaping the benefits by living as an enriched human-being," said Xuan.
Vu joined the commando force of the Liberation Front as a teenager in the early 1970?s and only returned from military service as a disabled soldier in 1982. The penniless disabled returnee then applied for a job at Vinh Long Material Supply Company.
Two years later, Vu quit the State-owned company when it went bankrupt.
But the war-veteran was not easily dismayed. Returning to the fields, Vu was responsible for cultivating a new variety of rice which brought him a big crop in 1985. Sales from this rice harvest were outstanding and allowed Vu to buy 5,000 square metres of bare fields. This he turned into a snake farm.
Unfortunately fate was to deal him another blow. After five years of operation, the self-confessed inexperienced farmer?s business folded.
Granted a VND700,000 loan from Ward 5?s Credit Fund ( Vinh Long Town), Vu pursued snake breeding again. Later he turned his hand to cultivating crocodiles before he developed the turtle-breeding facility of his farm.
But the Taiwanese turtle could not help him to make his farm a success. In 1995, when most Mekong farmers raised Taiwanese and Thai turtles, Vu began to let male turtles from the Red River Delta breed with female turtles from the Mekong Delta.
This breeding idea was an instant success. The young turtles born grew very well in the water of the Mekong River and were sold for much higher prices compared with the usually popular Thai or Taiwanese turtles.
From this success, Vu invested nearly US$500,000 for business expansion, developed his 5,000 sq.m farm to a 60,000sqm facility. ? VNS
This article can be found at vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn