Led by high-tech methods, the VietGAP-compliant shrimp farming project is bringing previously unseen wealth to the southernmost province of Ca Mau.
The extensive white-legged shrimp growing model – part of the Coastal Resources for Sustainable Development Project (CRSD) – is supported by CRSD’s management board with funds from the World Bank.
In Tan Dien village, Tan Duyet Commune, Dam Doi district, the white-legged shrimp farming model is deployed at 161 households taking up over 100 hectares, and it’s expected to expand further to another 90 households.
Head of one of the piloting households, To Hoai Thuong said after four months of raising shrimp at a density of 100 shrimps per square metre, his household harvested some 2,800 kg.
“Besides the financial support, the thing we appreciate the most is technical support we have received,” Thuong told Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) newspaper. “During the whole farming process, I tried to stick to the breeding schedule that experts recommended. We also grow tilapia in the same shrimp ponds, which helps create better water circulation and limits white-spot or yellowhead diseases.”
He added that the shrimp farms were carefully constructed, following experts’ instructions to best protect the environment.
“Subtracting the expenses, I earn a profit of 200 million VND a crop (8,800 USD), considerably higher compared to when I used the traditional method,” Thuong said.
“Plus, it gives a comfortable peace of mind,” he added, referring to the new model’s benefits in reduced risks of diseases and ensured food safety of the products.
In Cai Nuoc district, the VietGap model has also brought about positive results.
Local Phan Van On said the benefit of joining the piloting project is receiving instructions from “very helpful technical experts.”
Thanks to their expertise, On said he was aware of the needs to invest into clean production that abides by VietGAP standards, “With initial investment of 70 million per hectare, each crop yield total output worth of 200 million VND (8,800 USD), for a profit of 80 million (3,500 USD). Each year I can grow two crops like this.”
According to years of research and social surveys on farming, experts file the difficulties of shrimp farming into three main groups: environment, economy, and social issues. These sorts of difficulties arise in all elements of production, from stock supply and breeding, to technical management, caring, and transporting.
“Households joining the project will receive technical assistance, especially regarding the fact that after each crop, a month of ‘rest’ is a must-have to ‘regenerate’ the shrimp ponds, sun-drying and cover the pond’s bottoms with lime,” On said.
“Compliance with VietGAP standards not only brings us better income and profits, it also opens up a direction into sustainable production,” he added.
According to Nguyen Van Teo, an agriculture extension official in Phu Hung commune, the project reached out to some 240 households in the commune, who were beneficiaries of technical knowledge and skills regarding extensive shrimp farming.
“With the new model, a crop can yield as high as 550-600kg per ha, while with the traditional method, it’s lucky if the output is some 350kg a year,” Teo said.
According to the project assessment team, all participating households complies fully with the VietGAP standards.
These households’ production sites are all located within the area already planned for shrimp farming; environment protection standards and food safety and hygiene regulations are followed through.
Quach Ngoc Binh, deputy head of the CRDS project’s board of directors in Ca Mau province, said that the “biggest result” of the project is a change in farmers’ production mindset.
“From separate household production, farmers are now operating in groups, complying with recommended crop schedule, bearing the environmental protection and technology-integrated sustainable production in mind,” he said.
Binh also added that the project also put an emphasis on the linkages between export seafood manufacturers to ensure that farmers’ clean products will be sold and reach the market, guaranteeing their livelihoods.
The CRSD project implemented in Ca Mau province involves 10 farming zones with 2,200 households, and a total area of 2,230 hectares. The component conducting GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) in sustainable shrimp farming – implemented starting from 2012 throughout 2017 in 5 districts, Dam Doi, Cai Nuoc, Nam Can, Phu Tan, Ngoc Hien – has provided 3,000 farmers with necessary GAP knowledge and skills.