On November 1 and 2 2009, the research team from NEPED (Nagaland Empowerment of People through Economic Development), Nagaland, India conducted a field trip to Son La province, a northwestern mountainous province in Vietnam. The team is comprised of four researchers, led by Dr. Rutsa. The purpose of the visit is to observe pig farms under the Uplands project, which is jointly run by the Hohenheim university, Hanoi Agriculture University, Thai Nguyen Agriculture and Forestry University and the National Institute of Animal Husbandry.
ILRI Vietnam’s Nguyen Ngoc Toan escorted the team to Son La. Mr. Nguyen Van Hau, local representative and Mr Lo Trung Van, local veterinary technician of the project took the team to visit a sweet potato field and two farms using sweet potato leaves for pig production. In the next day, we went to Chieng Co commune, Son La city to observe farms under the Uplands project. These farms are provided with local breed sows, free vaccination and technical training in pig husbandry. In these visits, the team interviewed farmers on issues concerning their pig production. Local bred and cross bred pigs are raised in these farms. Local breed pigs are said to be easier to raise and generate higher profit. The live-weight price of local bred pigs is about 2,000 VND higher that of cross-bred pigs. Those farmers use traditional feed, such as maize and/or cassava cooked with sweet potato leaves, banana stems and other forest herbs. These feed are then mixed with concentrated feed. Most of the farms have sufficient unprocessed feed for their pigs and some even have excessive maize to sell. Disease has not been a problem with the farms.
Pig raising gives a significant proportion of income to the farmers and it seems a profitable business for them. Beside income from pig raising, those farmers have income from other sources such as crop (maize, cassava), coffee (they are happy with income from coffee too), wage (e.g by working as masons) or supplying agricultural service (such as running a mill machine) or producing alcohol. We observed that the farmers have many agricultural tools and equipment, such as grinding and chopping machines, maize grain separating tools, and other tools that do not seem to be widely used in farms in other areas we have visited.