September 3, 2008
Modern duck farming slowly shaping up in Vietnam
Vietnam's government is pushing duck farmers who traditionally practice the free-range system into modern duck farming which employs the use of vaccines, manufactured feeds and hygienic rearing practices to prevent bird flu, according to VietNamNet Bridge.
More duck farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are incorporating bio-safety measures into the work of breeding ducks they aware of the benefits of modern farming after learning the hard way-- in 2003, bird flu swept through the region, causing heavy losses to farmers as thousands of ducks had to be culled to prevent the disease from spreading.
In the last five years, six outbreaks of the H5N1 virus were responsible for the culling of 46 million birds in Vietnam. At the height of the outbreak, the Government banned duck breeding temporarily as waterfowl are more prone to infections than other kinds of poultry.
Efforts were then launched to make a push towards closed system farming, with education and incentives being the spearheads of the drive.
More farmers are now aware that closed systems would prevent ducks from mixing with wild birds, lessening the chance of disease transmission. Using industrially manufactured feed and clean water sources also prevents the onset of disease. These and other measures in turn generate more material benefits for farmers, the paper said.
Moreover, A duck brought up with bio-safety measures usually weighs 3 to 3.5kg, and is sold for VND35,000 per kilogramme (US$2.11). Ducks raised the traditional, free-range way weigh only half as much, and go for nearly half the price per kilogramme.
Having a closed system also frees up farmers' time as they would longer need to watch the birds or hire more people to watch over their flocks. Furthermore, the bird droppings can be used in raising fish, which serves another benefit, farmers said.
Free range farmers in Vietnam pay landowners a sum of money in return for being allowed to let their ducks feed on harvested paddy land. However, that exposes the ducks not only to infection from wild birds but also pesticides and other chemicals sprayed on the fields.
With greater profits from closed-system farming, the region's farmers are buying equipment in hopes of expanding their businesses, the newspaper reported.
Still, outside An Giang and Tay Ninh provinces, many duck farmers still stick to the traditional methods as they have neither the knowledge nor cash to apply new methods. In fact, 70 percent of the ducks in Vietnam are raised in this manner.
The Mekong Delta's ideal natural conditions makes raising ducks a popular source of livelihood for a lot of farming households in the area, experts said. The region now has more than 20 million ducks accounting for a third of the nation's total.
The Government has approved a breeding development strategy until 2020 under which the country's breeding industry will shift to industrial production, Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy director of the Livestock Production Department told VietnamNet Bridge.
The government aims to have farm-based breeding increase from the current 20 percent to 33 percent in 2010, 49 percent in 2015 and 60 percent in 2020.
In order to achieve the goal, the Government has enacted policies and measures such as a master plan for zoning of commercial poultry farms, he said.