After a four-hour drive down south from Ho Chi Minh City, we arrived in one of Vietnam's leading industrial shrimp farming regions, the Sóc Trăng province. This province uniquely grows shrimp through a different approach, making its shrimp product of good quality and environmentally sustainable.

We met members of a tight-knit community group, Hoa De Cooperative, officially established in 2016. The union consists of over fifty smallholder producers, primarily women who run mixed rice-shrimp farming in brackish water in their locale.

While many perceive farming as a male-dominated sector, the increasing roles and women's contributions paved the way to challenge the industry imbued with social norms and gender stereotypes.

During our visit, we heard and witnessed stories of these farmers making a difference and helping transform communities into a progressive, inclusive, and sustainable one.

Farming together

Huynh Thi Ly (Ms)
Owner & Farmer
mixed rice-shrimp farm,
Hoa De Cooperative member
Ma Van Hong (Mr)
Owner & Farmer
mixed rice-shrimp farm,
Hoa De Cooperative member
Hoa De Cooperative members Huynh Thi Ly (wife) and Ma Van Hong (husband) own and run a mixed rice-shrimp farm in Soc Trang. Every day is an early start for both of them as they must prepare and check the farms by daybreak.
They grow whiteleg shrimp (L.Vannamei), black tiger shrimp (P. Monodon), rice, and tilapia. Both have agricultural backgrounds, as they grew up helping their families to produce crops ever since they were young.

Eventually, Ly and Hong raised shrimp to add to their income streams.
Three decades ago, shrimp cultivation had many drawbacks, from needing more knowledge of proper shrimp cultivation and risk management to navigating technologies for a productive yield. But years after, a community group was established to support farmers with best practices and expand their network by connecting them with other cooperatives and processors.
The demand for our shrimp products is only driven by domestic consumption. We hope it increases so we can cater to a bigger market and improve our livelihood, Ma Van Hong said.

Most community members share the same hope for a good yield of shrimp and rice.

The secret to good quality shrimp

Ma Van Hong shared that the secret to good quality shrimp is that you only grow it once a year with the rice harvest. There should also have enough space to ensure optimal growth, and of course, only use organic substances to supply them with nutrients. In the rice-shrimp system, shrimp helps the rice growth, while rice provides nutrition to the shrimp.

About this story

In 2022, Soc Trang, Vietnam, led the country's trade export for shrimp with over USD 1 billion export value, a nearly 23% increase from the previous year. This growth in number provides opportunities for Vietnamese small-scale producers like Huynh Thi Ly and Ma Van Hong to thrive in their livelihood and access potential new markets through sustainable farming.

ASIC has been working with multi-stakeholder groups across Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, to provide place-based improvement solutions aligned with global standards to small-scale farmers and support them in addressing environmental and social challenges in the industry. This story has made possible through collaborations with ICAFIS and Hoa De Cooperative members.

This story was made possible through the support of: