The HCM City government has permitted Ton Phat Crocodile Co to build a crocodile skin tanning plant, the first in Vietnam, in the city to help increase added value from breeding crocodiles.
Company director Tran Van Nga said that the plant requires about US$1.3 million and will be able to process skins of 10,000 crocodiles per year in the initial period, and the capacity may be doubled in later years.
“The city government has agreed to provide us with soft loans to import machines from Italy beside certain types of equipment available in the country,” he said.
The company plans to ship 70% of the factory’s output to Europe, and the rest for local sale.
At present, 90% of Vietnam’s exported crocodile products are live animals, with about 5% being unprocessed skin, and the rest being frozen meat.
Director Nga said his company, which is raising 10,000 crocodiles, is seeking equipment suppliers in Italy, and is finding experts to train about 20 workers for the factory.
The company is a major crocodile breeding firm and crocodile exporter in Vietnam. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has recognised the company as meeting international standards.
A city agricultural official said that the city government is willing to support the company in hiring foreign experts in tanning crocodile skin to teach local workers, which in turn will help develop the city’s crocodile skin tanning industry.
About 48,000 crocodiles are being raised in HCM City. According to the city’s-agriculture service, most of them are exported alive to China, so little value is created. A 20-kilo crocodile is exported to China for 2.6 million dong, but processing the animal into different products can raise the value by 1.6 to four times.
The agriculture service expects the city to raise 80,000 or 100,000 crocodiles by 2010, with a half qualified for export. About one-third of the animals would be shipped alive to China and Taiwan, and other animals would be raised for meat and skin products for both local and overseas markets.