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Survey of Management Practices for Catfish Farm

VIET NAM - A comprehensive survey of management practices in the catfish farming sector is planned in support of the project Development of Better Management Practices for Catfish Aquaculture in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

The project team has just spent a week in the delta developing and testing a set of questionnaires, including survey forms for hatchery, nursery and grow-out farms.

During the visit the project team conducted field trials to test the draft questionnaires painstakingly developed during a previous field visit from 11 to 16 May 2008.

It found that the questionnaires still needed some modification in light of field conditions, but the cooperation of the farmers was excellent.

"They were eager to share information and spent hours discussing with us the highs and lows of catfish farming and their perceptions on the way forward," said Simon Wilkinson, communications manager for the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific.

"We also had opportunity to meet and hold discussions with provincial aquaculture authorities with regard to future collaboration in promoting the adoption of better management practices."

Mr Wilkinson said overall, many parts of the industry seemed very knowledgeable about the concerns of the overseas markets in terms of BMP related issues such as traceability, pollution, use of chemicals and related disease treatments. "This high level of awareness/ understanding would seem to bode well for the understanding of BMPs and their uptake in Vietnam," he said. "We also learnt that government at various levels (district, province and national) must be an integral part of the process of BMP development and implementation in order to reach an acceptable co-management arrangement.

"At a relatively large farm in Vinh Long province we were fortunate to observe Tesco Lotus representatives negotiating directly with the farmer.

"Larger processors seem to be aiming for a more vertically integrated approach as many are now starting grow-out operations to complement the processing operations. Some are even intending to also include hatchery and nursery operations. A variety of market/value chain links seem to be forming and a market chain analysis will be an important supporting component of the BMP project."