Rainbow trout was the first salmonid to be introduced to the northern resort town of Sapa in the Lai Chau province. Funded by the government of Finland's Fisheries Innovation Centre, the first hatchery for trout was established here, and farms were set up in Lam Dong. Now, salmon is being raised in fresh water reservoirs in the northern Lai Chau province, as well as in the Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Yen Bai Provinces, according to an article in the Viet Nam News, where the experiences of fish farmer Tran Yen were described;
Having lost US$19,000 on his first attempt to farm salmon, Mr. Yen, like most fish farmers was determined to continue. The 54-year-old was the first farmer to try this business in northern Lai Chau Province. After seeing salmon farming in Sapa, 20km from his home province, Yen was convinced of the potential of fish farming. "Most farmers in the area were involved in forestry and raised cattle, which earned them about VND30-40 million ($1,800-2,500) per year. I wanted to try something more profitable, and thought that fish farming was suitable, as we have a good climate and cheap labour in Lai Chau Province," says Yen.
With an initial loan of VND100 million ($6,200) from the Lai Chau Social Policy Bank, Yen started building reservoirs and buying fish fry in late 2005. However, it was not all smooth sailing for Yen, "My first 3,000 fish died due to unusually hot weather and my lack of experience," he says. "Salmon are temperamental fish and require water to be between 18-20 degree Celsius – and fish feed must be imported from France. However, it is very difficult to adjust the water temperature in reservoirs" says Yen. "After my first failure, I went to China to learn more and did further research."
His efforts paid off, in 2007, Yen raised 40 tonnes of salmon, earning VND6billion ($375,000). Yen expects to produce between 80-90 tonnes this year, doubling profits. Yen said a kilogram of salmon is sold for between VND200,000-300,000 ($12.5-18.7), bringing him VND150 million ($9,400) per month. His products are mainly consumed in northern areas, particularly Ha Noi, Lai Chau, Hai Phong and Dien Bien. "I want to invest more, as supply does not meet demand, I cannot fulfil orders from many customers in Ha Noi, Hai Phong and even Japan, " Yen says.
Yen plans to build a $100,000 seafood processing factory in response to growing demand from local consumers. There is demand for 1,500 tonnes of salmon per year, but domestic producers can only supply 200 tonnes. Yen would like to help other farmers profit from his knowledge. "Salmon raising provides a stable income, I hope to share my experience so other farmers can get involved in this business. Apart from knowledge, capital is also crucial, it is not easy for a farmer to invest the VND100 million ($6,200) needed." Yen says.