After Tet, Phu Yen’s local residents have been rushing to hunt for water turtles to sell to Chinese merchants. A kilogram of turtles can be sold at 20 million dong, the profit which is clearly much higher than the profits from growing rice. As a result, hundreds of farmers have left their fields idle, while leaving for mountainous districts, such as Son Hoa and Song Hinh to catch turtles.
Everyone becomes turtle hunter
Le Ngoc Quang, a turtle hunter in Tay Hoa district led Nguoi lao dong’s reporter to Song Hinh Commune in Song Hinh district to lay a trap for turtles.
“I don’t understand what Chinese use turtles for. Why do they accept to buy turtles at such high prices?,” he questioned. “I know some people earned hundreds of millions of dong from selling turtles”.
However, Hai Tuan, Tu Trung, the men, who reportedly earned hundreds of millions of dong from selling turtles, denied the rumor that they could earn big sums of money.
“It is just wrong information. In the past, there were many turtles. However, people have caught all the turtles here already. There is no more turtle to catch,” said Pham Ngoc Hoang in Song Hinh district.
According to a merchant, who collects turtles from farmers to sell to bigger traders, turtles are put into boxes and then carried to Hanoi, where they are sold to a trader and then carried illegally to China.
The turtles being hunted in Phu Yen belong to IIB group, which listed in the IUCN’s Red Book as CR species. In 2006, the Government promulgated the Decree No 32 on protecting wild animals in Vietnam, in which the turtles in the central region are listed among the animals that need protection, while trade, exchange or consumption is prohibited.
However, Hoang said, local residents do not want to know about that, they just know that they can earn big money from selling that kind of turtles.
Not only hunting for turtles, over the last one, hundreds of local residents in Tuy An district have also been rushing to catch dat, a two-shelled mollusks, which live in brackish water. In the past, the aquatic species was cheap, priced at 4000 dong per kilo, which was only used to make fish sauce or feed for tiger shrimp.
However, as Chinese merchants now have high demand for the aquatic product, the prices have been pushed to 15,000, and then 25,000 dong per kilo
Chinese demand destroying Vietnam’s plantation strategy
The scrambling for dried and fresh cassava has never been as stiff as the one in 2011. Earlier this crop, Dong Xuan and Song Hinh cassava processing factories collected cassava at 1800 dong per kilo. Meanwhile, small merchants scrambled for the materials by paying 4000 dong for a kilo of dried cassava.
This forced the factories to raise the purchase price to 2200 dong per kilo. After that, small merchants also raised the purchase price to 5200 dong per kilo. And factories had to offer the price at 2500 dong per kilo.
Huynh Van Dong, Director of the Dong Xuan Cassava Factory complained that his factory has to finish the production season soon, in mid-May, because it does not have materials to run.
With the material growing area of 5000 hectares and the designed processing capacity of 285 tons per day, Dong previously planned to end the production season on June 15. However, he has to do that one month earlier than planned.
The high prices of cassava have encouraged people to rush to grow cassavas. The land areas, where people grew corn, bean and sesame, now have been reserved for growing cassava.
“This has spoiled the district’s plantation strategy. If the cassava prices decrease the next year, farmers would have to chop down cassavas. If so, they will suffer from hunger,” said Dao Duy Linh, Head of the Son Hoa’s district’s agriculture sub-department.