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Marine fish
Salmon farm proves lucrative, with time
August 05, 2008, 05:19 AM
His efforts paid off in 2007 Yen


Tran Yen lost nearly VND300 million (US$19,000) in his first attempt to raise freshwater salmon, a highly prized gourmet fish.


In his first year of operation, 3,000 young fish unexpectedly died. Despite his lack of experience, Yen was determined to continue. The 54-year-old was the first farmer to try this business in northern Lai Chau Province.

After seeing salmon farming in Sapa, 20km from his home province, Yen was convinced of the potential of fish farming.

"Most farmers in the area were involved in forestry and raised cattle, which earned them about VND30-40 million ($1,800-2,500) per year. I wanted to try something more profitable, and thought that fish farming was suitable, as we have a good climate and cheap labour in Lai Chau Province," says Yen.

With an initial loan of VND100 million ($6,200) from the Lai Chau Social Policy Bank, Yen started building reservoirs and buying fish fry in late 2005. However, it was not all smooth sailing for Yen, "My first 3,000 fish died due to unusually hot weather and my lack of experience," he says.

"Salmon are temperamental fish and require water to be between 18-20 degree Celsius – and fish feed must be imported from France. However, it is very difficult to adjust the water temperature in reservoirs" says Yen.

"It was my first time fish farming. I learnt from books, friends and training courses, but that was not enough, I had to explore other techniques," he said, and added "Weather conditions, water quality, and fish feed are the main factors in whether or not you can successfully raise salmon. After my first failure, I went to China to learn more and did further research."

His efforts paid off, in 2007, Yen raised 40 tonnes of salmon, earning VND6billion ($375,000). Yen expects to produce between 80-90 tonnes this year, doubling profits. Yen said a kilogram of salmon is sold for between VND200,000-300,000 ($12.5-18.7), bringing him VND150 million ($9,400) per month.

His products are mainly consumed in northern areas, particularly Ha Noi, Lai Chau, Hai Phong and Dien Bien.

"I want to invest more, as supply does not meet demand, I cannot fulfil orders from many customers in Ha Noi, Hai Phong and even Japan, " Yen says.

Yen plans to build a $100,000 seafood processing factory in response to growing demand from local consumers. There is demand for 1,500 tonnes of salmon per year, but domestic producers can only supply 200 tonnes.

Apart from Lai Chau, salmon are also raised in Sapa, Cao Bang and Yen Bai Provinces. Yen would like to help other farmers profit from his knowledge.

"Salmon raising provides a stable income, I hope to share my experience so other farmers can get involved in this business. Apart from knowledge, capital is also crucial, it is not easy for a farmer to invest the VND100 million ($6,200) needed." Yen says.

Yen has also started raising sturgeon, which can fetch VND500,000-600,000 ($31-37) per kilogram. His farm employs 100 local workers who are paid an average VND2 million ($125) per month.

Loans for the poor

Yen is one of many who have benefited from the credit programme initiated by the Lai Chau Social Policy Bank. By the end of June, the bank had provided loans worth VND103 billion ($6,4 million) to local households.

"Bank officials help us a lot, and often come to our farms to check everything is going smoothly," Yen says.

To improve access to loan facilities, the bank simplified loan procedures, offered on-site consultancy services. The bank has set up 81 offices around the province, particularly in remote and mountainous areas.


Source: (Growfish, 03/08/2008)
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