The area near the border gate in Vinh Xuong Commune – a small neighborhood in Tan Chau Town in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang – is home to one of Vietnam’s busiest rat markets.
There were days when people came to An Giang and bought up to tons of the rice field rats, known as chuot dong in Vietnamese, from the local market as well as from Cambodia before reselling them to consumers across Vietnam.
Trung, a trader from Hong Ngu District, Dong Thap Province, sells 200 to 300 kilograms of the rats he has bought from Cambodia each day.
With each kilogram of live rats sold to domestic sellers for VND35,000 (US$1.5), Trung earns a profit of VND2,000 ($0.09), or approximately VND700,000 ($30) per day.
According to Trung, buying and selling rats have made it possible for border area residents to make ends meet.
|Trung, a trader from Hong Ngu District in Dong Thap Province, inspects the rats before they are transported to the Phu Dat rat market in Binh Long Commune, Chau Phu District, An Giang Province, Vietnam. Photo: Buu Dau / Tuoi Tre|
Also, Ha Thi Kim Lang, from An Giang Province’s Tan Chau Town, has makes her living off the furry rodents.
According to Lang, her family has been in the rat business for nearly 15 years.
Lang’s family mainly buys live rice field rats from Cambodian traders and process them in order to resell them at wholesale and retail markets throughout the province.
“I sell ready-to-cook rats for sellers at the markets at VND55,000 [$2.4] per kilogram, cheaper than the retail rate of VND60,000 [$2.6] per kilogram,” Lang said.
“No matter how many rats I buy, I’m able to sell 100 percent of my stock each day."
The Phu Dat rat market in An Giang’s Binh Long Commune is considered the central hub of the Mekong Delta’s rat trade, according to Nguyen Phung Anh Vu, chairman of the Binh Long People’s Committee.
The market is responsible for sending around 15 tonnes of rice field rats to Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces each day, with 63 workers making a living on processing and transporting chuot dong.
“Rats are collected from border districts such as An Phu, Tan Chau, Tinh Bien, and Tri Ton,” Vu shared.
“Each of the 63 workers who transport and process rats here makes VND150,000-200,000 [$6.5-8.6] each day.”
|A worker organizes cages of chuot dong at a local rat market in Vinh Xuong Commune, Tan Chau Town, located in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang. Photo: Buu Dau / Tuoi Tre|
|Workers prepare cages of chuot dong at a local rat market at Vinh Xuong Commune, Tan Chau Town, located in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang before they are transported for consumption. Photo: Buu Dau / Tuoi Tre|
|These chuot dong cages are ready to go. Photo: Buu Dau / Tuoi Tre|