BAC GIANG - Yen The district, which has been famous throughout the country for its hill chicken products, now boasts the largest sturgeon and eel farm in the province with a unique and creative breeding method.
The owners of this farm are Tran Duc Hai, born in 1987 in Dong Lac village, Dong Tam commune, Yen The district, and his friends.
Sturgeons are raised in a cement tank.
Normally, fish species are raised in ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams with large, open spaces. However, at Hai's farm, "demanding" fishes such as sturgeon and eel are raised in small "ponds" renovated from his family's former pig barns. Holding a flashlight, Hai took us to visit the fish. All were in the black, with the water gurgling, making the air cool as if the air conditioner was running to dispel the severe heat of the afternoon.
Heading the flashlight towards the thermometer installed on the roof, Hai said: "Eel and sturgeon like darkness and cool temperatures, so we have to cover the farming area carefully, avoiding direct light. The average temperature is maintained at 26-27 degrees Celsius.”
The impression from this farm is that fish of many ages are raised in cement tanks. Inside the tanks is lined with black tarpaulin to prevent the fish from being scratched when hitting the tank wall and make it convenient for harvesting. Dropping a handful of food into an eel tank, under the light of a flashlight, the school of fish rose up to eat the bait.
Tran Duc Hai.
Now is the busiest time for farmers as they must keep a close watch every hour to adjust water, temperature and feed.
Holding a sturgeon weighing about 1 kg in his hand, Hai said: "Currently commercial sturgeon is priced at 220,000 – 250,000 VND (10.1 USD) per kg and eel 330,000-350,000 VND (14.2 USD) per kg. The bigger the fish, the higher the price is because of the quality of the meat. Many restaurants in Hanoi, Bac Ninh, Hai Phong, and Quang Ninh are willing to make a deposit to purchase the fish but the farm cannot provide enough."
Understanding the potential and value of these fishes, in 2023 he has expanded the farming scale to a total of 77 tanks with tens of thousands of breeding and commercial sturgeons and eels. The farm is fully equipped with surveillance cameras, machineries and equipment to support remote fish monitoring.
Because ponds are not dug, the amount of water used to raise fish in the tanks is huge. To save costs and create conditions for the fish to live in an environment that is similar to the natural one, the farm equips itself with aeration, oxygen generation, and cooling systems.
Since the beginning of the year, the farm has sold about 100,000 fingerlings and 25 tons of commercial fish, with revenue estimated at billions of Vietnamese dong. The profits will be reinvested to expand the farming scale. In the past, only the Northwest highlands could produce sturgeon fingerlings, but today, thanks to application of techniques, the fingerlings at Hai's farm are healthy and of good quality, and they are supplied to other fish farms in Lao Cai, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho and Lang Son provinces.
A sturgeon tank at Hai’s farm.
According to Hai, the work is quite hard, but the more he does it, the more he loves it, especially when he sees healthy fish, favorable sale, and high prices. Seeing his effective fish farming, many people in Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, and Hanoi came to learn how to raise these fishes and asked him to transfer farming techniques.
To meet the requirements of greater market access toward exports, in 2022, Hai and his friends established the Vietnam Eel Import-Export Company Limited. The young men are building a 5,000-sq.m farm in Tien Luc commune, Lang Giang district. The good news is that in 2023, many traders from Japan and the Republic of Korea will come here to explore the model and propose long-term cooperation in supplying processed sturgeon products.
Boldly innovating and initially reaping "sweet fruit", hopefully in the near future, sturgeon and eel, dark-loving fishes raised in Bac Giang, will be exported thanks to Hai and his colleagues.