Farmers in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang have bred giant river prawns on 74ha so far this year, up 40.6 per cent against the same period last year, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Most giant river prawn farming areas are in Thoại Sơn, Châu Thành and Châu Phú districts, and Long Xuyên City.
The breeding of giant river prawns in An Giang has developed since 2000, mostly in ponds or under rice-shrimp rotation models in rice fields.
The breeding of the huge crustaceans in rice fields during the delta’s flooding season has offered farmers higher profits than rice cultivation.
Farmer Trịnh Văn Dinh, from An Phú District’s Vĩnh Hậu Commune, catches giant river prawn fries in floodwaters and then breeds them in his rice field.
This year, Dinh is breeding more than 12,000 giant river prawn fries on a 3,000 sq.m field.
He is expected to earn VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) from harvesting 300 kilos of giant river prawns compared to 200 kilos last year, as floodwaters have been higher than those of last year.
During the flooding season, farmers enclose flooded fields with wooden stakes and nets to farm the prawns, which eat natural food in floodwaters. The higher the floodwaters, the faster the prawns grow.
The area for breeding the prawns increased from 5.5ha in 2000 to 650ha in 2007.
However, the province’s giant river prawn farming area shrank in size in recent years because of low quality prawn fries, low yield and losses.
The province is now using advanced farming techniques and breeding only male giant river prawns, according to the department.
Giant male river prawns grow faster than female prawns and are strongly resistant to disease, and can be harvested within four to six months.
Profits from male giant river prawns have increased by 30 per cent compared to traditional farming, according to the province’s Fisheries Breeding Centre.
In recent years, the centre produced all male giant river prawn fries for breeding which helped to cut the number of deaths during the breeding process.
The centre has produced about 18.2 million giant river prawn post-larvae and more than 419 million of prawn larvae so far this year, meeting the demand of male prawn fries for breeding in An Giang and other provinces.
An Giang plans to have 300ha that breeds all male giant river prawn under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) standards by 2020.
Of the figure, 250ha is bred in Thoại Sơn District and the rest in Châu Phú District.
The province has offered soft loans for farmers to breed giant river prawns and has provided them with farming techniques.
It also covers 50 per cent of the cost of prawn fries for farmers who breed giant river prawns under VietGAP standards.