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Become a billionaire in the West by raising eels

Ca MauAfter a trial period, Mr. Nguyen Huu Anh, 65 years old, converted more than 5 hectares of low-yielding rice land to eel farming, earning a profit of more than billion VND per year.

In 1999, the freshwater eel farming model was quite unfamiliar to Ca Mau farmers. Through an acquaintance in Binh Thuan introduced, at first Mr. Anh was a little hesitant. After many nights of thinking, he decided to experiment with a pond.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Anh checks the health of eels raised in ponds on his farm.  Photo: Anh Minh

Mr. Nguyen Huu Anh checks the health of eels raised in ponds on his farm. Image: Anh Minh

Thinking to do it, Mr. Anh sold 100 bushels of rice to buy 400 seed eels from Binh Thuan to raise in his pond in Tan Thanh commune, Ca Mau city, despite the objections of his relatives. Thanks to his many years of experience in raising gobies, raising eels with him was not difficult. After 18 months of stocking, Mr. Anh slapped the pond, harvested 330 eels, weighing 1-3 kg each (40-60 cm long) and sold 65 million VND.

With a good start, he extracted 40 million dong from the profit in the first farming crop to dig 8 more ponds and all were effective. The increased market demand has kept the price of eel at a high level of 500,000-600,000 VND per kg for many years. By 2011, Mr. Anh had earned billions of dollars from raising strange fish. A few years later, eel farming became an effective movement in Ca Mau.

After a period of accumulation, in 2019, Mr. Anh decided to invest more than 8 billion VND to buy more than 5 hectares of low-yield land in Tan Thanh commune to invest in methodical eel farming. Here, he hired people to dig 30 ponds (each pond is 800 m2 wide). Over the past three years, on average, each year, this farmer has earned a profit of 1.3-1.5 billion VND from raising specialty fish.

The litter of eels is raised for about a year at Mr. Nguyen Huu Anh's farm.  Photo: Anh Minh

The litter of eels is raised for about a year at Mr. Nguyen Huu Anh’s farm. Image: Anh Minh

The 65-year-old farmer said that eels are easy to raise, with very few diseases, and the main food is trash fish, which is abundant in the locality. However, the seed has a high price and takes a long time to be harvested. Therefore, the process of raising this fish must be meticulous and regularly monitored.

Specifically, after digging a pond, farmers need to get water to soak for 15-20 days, then pump it out and put new water in. Next, the water must be treated with lime powder and disinfected. The water level is suitable for raising eels about 1.6 m.

Mr. Anh selected eel breed of 10 fish per kg, with the price of about 1.2 million dong. To limit intestinal diseases, he feeds fish every other day, at a fixed time. After 7-8 months of culture, fish depending on the size will be separated to other ponds. From stocking to harvest, the fish were transferred to the pond twice. This in addition to helping to clean the living environment, also helps the eels grow quickly, with less loss.

Fish are sold after about 20 months of rearing. With 40 ponds, he rotates harvests, ensuring every year there is a product. Currently, eels are purchased by local traders at the price of 400,000-420,000 VND per kg. “On average, each kilogram of eel will cost about 10 kilograms of fish food. If cared for well, each kilogram of eel after deducting costs can earn a profit of 50-60%”, pioneer farmers raising this specialty fish in Ca Mau said.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Anh's eel farm in Ca Mau City.  Photo: Anh Minh

Mr. Nguyen Huu Anh’s eel farm in Ca Mau City. Image: Anh Minh

Dr. Vo Thanh Toan, Faculty of Fisheries (Can Tho University), said that there are two species of eels, living in the sea and fresh water. The scientific name of the freshwater eel is Anguilla rostrata. “Eel has a high adaptability, which means it can live in saltwater, brackish and even freshwater. This is a fish with high economic value due to its delicious and popular meat,” he said. This fish species is raised most effectively in cages where water can be exchanged regularly.

According to Dr. Toan, the seed source of this fish depends on nature. To tame saltwater eels into freshwater, it takes time for farmers to reduce the salt concentration for the fish to adapt, so care must be prolonged. In the Mekong Delta, farmers can keep eels in ponds with some other fish to save food.

Mr. Phan Tan Lam, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee in Tan Thanh Commune, said that thanks to raising eels, many farmers in the commune have escaped poverty and become rich. In the coming time, the locality will work with functional sectors to expand the consumption market, helping farmers feel secure to invest in the production of this specialty fish.

Anh Minh

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