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Veteran prospers from salmon pioneering project in Sa Pa
26 | 11 | 2007
Former soldier Tran Yen never thought that salmon would become a source of wealth when he started his business in Sa Pa District of Lao Cai Province.

In 2005, Yen visited a salmon farm and saw the potential for future growth of the business. The Lao Cai Department of Fisheries held a trial project in Sa Pa for salmon breeding because of the region’s ideal weather for salmon breeding. Yen requested to be a pioneer of the project.

"It was luck, and I thank god that I was not wrong to make that decision," he says.

Yen had to borrow money from friends and relatives to secure the initial investment of VND130 million (US$8,100) for three breeding ponds, the fish and food. In the first month, he was barely able to sleep as he was too worried about the salmon.

"I was always anxious that something would kill the salmon. Especially when it would rain, I would stay awake all night to ensure that the water would not overflow onto the banks and wash my salmon away," says Yen.

Luckily, the fish showed signs of healthy development after one month. After six months, the fish grew to weigh about 1kg. Yen was able to sell the fish for a surprisingly high price of VND150,000 - 170,000 ($9.3-10.6) per kilogram. In early 2006, he sold 2.5 tonnes of salmon and earned VND375 million ($23,437), allowing him to pay off his debts.

Things were not always perfect for Yen, however. Thousands of his salmon died during a flood. A businessman at heart, Yen got back on his feet by requesting more loans to expand his business.

Considering the profits he had seen from salmon breeding, in 2006 Yen invested VND2.2 billion ($137,500) to construct 14 breeding ponds on his 4,000 sq.m of land. The farm now produces over 50 tonnes of salmon, bringing Yen a revenue of VND7 billion ($437,500).

Yen’s salmon farm has become the main supplier for the province and for many restaurants in the north. He recently built a road linking the national highway to his farm and has purchased a refrigerated truck, which allows him to more effectively transport his products.

"I want to build my own brand name as a major salmon provider in the country," said Yen.

In addition, he has studied the living habits of salmon to be better informed on breeding tactics. Yen, a philanthropist at heart, does not keep his business ideas to himself but informs others of his knowledge and experience in fish breeding. Yen has become a key actor in the diffusion of breeding methodology to other farmers in the province. Yen even plans to bring his salmon overseas.

"Export can be a good guaranteed output for the business in the long term," he said.

After many trips and meetings in Hai Phong and Quang Ninh, Yen signed an agreement with Ha Long Canned Food Company to build a salmon processing chain. The chain is expected to be operational by the end of this year. Yen plans to increase the salmon production to 100 tonnes per year by collecting from other farms to form a stable input for his business.

Nurturing a dream

Yen, however, has paid the price for his budding projects and grand business plans. When he first started out in the province, the enthusiastic veteran used to dream of going back to his home town in Ninh Binh Province to restart his life. But the Government policy concerning forestation, passed in 2002, gave Yen the opportunity to stay.

The salmon business quickly created wealth and security for Yen, but Yen still desired to make his dreams of forestry development a reality.

According to Yen’s plans, each mountainous commune of 500 households could grow up to 2,500ha of forest in two years. After six years, each household could receive an income of VND200 million ($12,500) per year.

"This is a mountainous area so focusing on forestry will be a good way to develop the economy in a sustainable manner for the long term," said Yen

Source: vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn
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