While most households fell over themselves to sell their land when news spread that Phu Quoc was to be developed into a tourism destination, Duong Van Au decided to stay put.
How it began
Inheriting a 0.7 ha plot from his parents, Au rebuffed all suitors keen to pry him away from his land. Unsure of what he wanted to do, he did believe that the land should be used for a special purpose. Lightening struck one night when he was at home watching a TV programme on new models of crocodile breeding in Dong Thap southern province, the ferocity of the reptile impressed the risk taking nature of the man.
Armed with a fascination and love of the crocodile, Au headed to the farm he had seen, to work as a volunteer in the hope of learning all he possibly could about the mating habits of the reptile. Six months later, the seeds of an unusual project began to take shape under the quizzical eye of family and friends.
The first month saw him clean out his bank account, returning penniless but with a truck of crocodiles and turtles in tow. His wife became confused and worried and an ugly rumour started around town that he was losing his mind.
Au, aware of the rumourmongers, took pains to explain to his wife and 6 children that he had carefully planned his new venture and success was all but assured. Au’s family is a wholesaler of fishing junks around the region and have substantial contacts in fishing communities, with enough fresh food for his 1,000 crocodiles secured, and a favourable climate, the crocodiles grew quickly under the loving hand of the farmer.
With the breeding failures of his herd of 500 goats and 80 cows hitting home, Au was more determined than ever to make his new farm work. The days were long and hard for some time, the usual yearly profits he received from cattle and goats had paid his workers wages. There was little he could do but to work harder on crocodile breeding himself.
The farm’s success
His hard work began paying dividends, before known to locals as Au the crazy man. He is now known Au the billionaire.
Buyers from HCM City have been beating down his door to purchase his crocodiles for over VND100,000 per kilogram, refusing to be swayed by the offers, the new billionaire believes the price will climb higher still as his herd shows no sign of slowing down its growth rate.
An added bonus has also presented itself to the farmer, as his turtles being bred in 10 ponds are in huge demand. Au ignored advisors who told him it was wasteful to hire workers from Thailand who had experience in the field. The gamble paid off and now his turtle is regarded as a benchmark in quality.
Not intent to rest on his laurels, Au recently learned a new hatching method for turtle’s eggs that doesn’t require the use of electricity. With black outs an ever present problem on the island, his ingenious new method will allow him to continue to breed and produce in all conditions. Au is now setting his sights on building an eco-tourism hub on the island, to educate people on the beauty of the crocodile.
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