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Pioneering snail-fed shrimp farms yield higher profits

BAC LIEU - A shrimp breeder in Bac Lieu Township has successfully pioneered the use oc buou vang, or golden snails, which are prolific pests that eat through farmers crops, to feed tiger prawns.

His new feeding system, along with studies on pond population densities, has created higher incomes and lowered risks for local farmers.

Five years ago, Vo Hong Ngoan, 50, decided to take a gamble and raise prawns after a trip to the southern provinces of Soc Trang and Ca Mau where there is widespread shrimp farming. At the time, he was a struggling lorry driver whose family was going through tough economic times.

He returned to Bac Lieu Township, his birthplace, where the provincial People’s Committee had enacted a policy to switch ineffective rice fields into aquaculture ponds.

Ngoan then bought three hectares of land with his life savings and dug four ponds to breed shrimp. His first crop resulted in a mere VND100 million in profit.

Like many other breeders, Ngoan relied heavily on industrial shrimp feed which increased costs and cut into his income. Wanting to find an alternative, he began experimenting and eventually decided on golden snails, which multiplied rapidly in neighbouring agriculture fields.

He discovered the nutritional value in one kilogram of industrial feed is equivalent to three kilograms of golden snail chum, and prawns three to four months old can eat the snails twice a day.

Ngoan usually uses 10kg of industrial feed in the morning and 30-40kg of snail in the afternoon. In the two months leading up to the harvest, he only uses snail which helps farmers protect their crops and is more economical for breeders who no longer have to rely so heavily on industrial feed.

He also conducted studies on population density in ponds and found that 7-11 shrimp per square meter was more economical than the more common 35-40 shrimp a square meter.

The necessary investment in the less dense ponds was also smaller, which limited risks to shrimp farmers.

Total sales from Ngoan’s ponds in 2004 were VND8 billion, of which VND3 billion was profit. Last year, profits grew to VND4.2 billion using his new shrimp farming technique.

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