Crocodile farmers in southern Đồng Nai Province have suffered from big losses since the beginning of this year due to weak demand.
Lưu Thị Hương, who is raising about 4,000 crocodiles, said the market price for crocodiles is VNĐ70, 000 (US$3.1) per kilo, a decrease of 70 per cent from last year.
“As the selling price is below the production cost, I have no choice but continue raising crocodiles. However, I feed them very little to reduce their weight,” she said.
“My family is lucky because we have saved money from previous years while other breeders have lost all their money,” Hương said, adding that Chinese traders preferred crocodiles weighing 18 to 20kg.
Hương is not alone in Định Quán District. Many local crocodile breeders have been hit hard by falling prices.
Nguyễn Văn Nhật is another example.
His family invested hundreds of millions of đồng in building breeding facilities and buying baby crocodiles in 2014. Seeing profits from the first harvest, Nhật decided to expand his farm to 300 crocodiles.
Although crocodiles in his farms were for sale, he kept them as he didn’t want to suffer losses.
Nguyễn Văn Chiểu, deputy head of Định Quán District’s Forestry Management Department, said the high price of the meat in previous years encouraged many farmers to build crocodile farms.
The department warned breeders of a poor consumption market and low prices because crocodiles reared in Định Quán District are mainly sold to China in small-volumes.
Local authorities also asked crocodile breeders to find a consumption market so that trade partners can’t reduce their price at will.
According to Chiểu, crocodiles are protected animals and are included in the list of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Floral) which bans the trade of the animals.
It is still legal to farm but breeders have to register with the local Forest Management Department.
The Department manages 375 farms with 140,000 crocodiles, accounting for 90 per cent of the total number of crocodiles reared in Đồng Nai Province, Chiểu said
There was a large number of crocodiles in stock due to low consumption, he said.