by Nguyen Thi Hai Ninh
We arrived in Can Tho on a day in December. The climate full of sun and wind in the South Western made the research team members relaxed and comfortable, which was unlike the cutting cold in Ha Noi. With the contact before the trip, a friend working at the Can Tho University took us to Thot Not district, one of the localities with active aquaculture activities in Can Tho city. Although having read a lot about Thot Not and understood the aquaculture potential here, we was really surprised when seeing for the first time in our research lives fish and shrimp ponds of tens of hectares of farm households. This fact helped us understand why aquaculture in the South Western Vietnam has developed and brought about high export value to the economy.
We visited the house of Mr. Phung Van Dieu in Trung Kien Ward, Thot Not District, one of the household with large-scale catfish aquaculture. Mr. Dieu, 67 years old, together with his wife, Mrs. Nguchattingyen Thi Ha and their 3 children began catfish aquaculture in 2003 with three ponds of a total area of 1 hectare. With the advantage of being nearby the Hau River, the three catfish ponds of Mr. Dieu are utilizing the water from the river; each pond has 2 litters/year and can be harvested a total output of about 120 tons. Mr. Dieu has 4 children, 3 sons and 1 daughter. Although all 4 of them have grown up and have their own families, they still work with the father. In addition, he must hire three male workers for 12 months to support his catfish pond work. According to Mr. Dieu, catfish pond work like dredging mud in catfish pond, changing the water and pond sanitation, feeding and harvesting are hard work and requires strength so they can not normally be undertaken by female workers. Therefore, like many other local aquaculture farmers, his preference in hiring employers is given to men with an average salary of 3.5 million dongs/month. His wife, as many other women workers, does not join much in her husband’s catfish aquaculture. Her main work is to prepare daily meals for the whole family and the employees.
After some time in the house, his eldest son, Mr. Phung Phuc Duc took us to visit the catfish ponds of the family. All three ponds are located near the Hau River and close to the house so it is very convenient to utilize the water sources and to take care the ponds. Around the shores of the ponds are very beautiful trees. According to Mr. Duc, the trees not only create good landscape for the ponds but also help for air conditioning the pond and anti-landslide when the rainy season comes. Mr. Duc has been assisting his father in catfish aquaculture since the first day of the work.
As in his saying, compared to 3 years ago, the water quality of the catfish ponds now is cleaner and less polluted because his family has been applying pond water treatment such as drying ponds for two or three days after harvest, dredging mud from the bottom ponds six times/litter and changing pond water once a day. Besides, local agriculture extension officials come to support him and his father in the catfish caring techniques, feeding techniques to prevent diseases and minimize the need for antibiotics.
The story about the catfish with Mr. Duc ended the day of the research team at Mr. Dieu’s household. “Travel broadens mind”, the experience trip helped us obtain more practical knowledge on aquaculture from the farmers which sometime cannot be found in books.