Early birds come to catch the worm at Saigon market

By Diep Phan   December 14, 2020 | 05:43 am GMT+7
A wholesale insect market in Saigon's Tan Phu District has been feeding pets for 20 years.
At around 4 a.m trucks carrying crickets, grasshoppers, worms, larvae, and various other insects come from HCMC’s suburban Hoc Mon and Cu Chi Districts and Tay Ninh Province to deliver them to wholesale dealers at the market. The latter will sell them in turn to retailers and livestock and pet feed sellers.

At around 4 a.m trucks carrying crickets, grasshoppers, worms, larvae, and various other insects come from HCMC’s suburban Hoc Mon and Cu Chi Districts and southern Tay Ninh Province to deliver them to wholesale dealers at the market. The latter will sell them in turn to retailers and livestock and pet feed sellers.

Vo Van Tanh, 53, of Tay Ninh Province is almost hard-wired to get up in the middle of the night to drive over 70 kilometers to deliver sacks of crickets to the sidewalks of Che Lan Vien Street for a decade. He says: Most of what I’m selling is from my cricket farming business and grasshoppers caught by farmers in the paddy fields. I handle around 300kg of crickets and 1,000 packages of grasshoppers each night.

Vo Van Tanh, 53, of Tay Ninh Province is almost hard-wired to get up in the middle of the night to drive over 70 kilometers to deliver sacks of crickets for a decade. He says: "Most of what I’m selling is from my cricket farming business and grasshoppers caught by farmers in the paddy fields. I handle around 300kg of crickets and 1,000 packages of grasshoppers each night."

A man, throwing bags of superworms on the ground, says: I breed superworms and crickets for my regular customers. While I’m at it, I also gather some more grasshoppers to sell to other traders.

A man, throwing bags of superworms on the ground, says: "I breed superworms and crickets for my regular customers. While I’m at it, I also gather some more grasshoppers to sell to other traders."

Each bag of superworms weighs 1kg and costs VND100,000 (US$4.3). They are used to feed pet birds and fishes.

Each bag of superworms weighs 1kg and costs VND100,000 ($4.3). They are used to feed pet birds and fishes.

Le Thi Diep, 40, travels 15km on her motorbike every day from District 8 to buy 200 bags of grasshoppers and 200kg of crickets for her store. Insects are worth more alive.

Le Thi Diep, 40, travels 15km on her motorbike every day from District 8 to buy 200 bags of grasshoppers and 200kg of crickets for her store. "Insects are worth more alive.

Grass lizards are among the most expensive items sold here. A bag of four costs VND12,000 ($0.5). Some traders said they are quite rare these days and hard to catch, and thus the high price. They are fed to birds.

Grass lizards are among the most expensive items sold here. A bag of four costs VND12,000 ($0.5). Some traders said they are quite rare these days and hard to catch, and thus the high price. They are fed to birds.

Occasionally, there are also frogs from Hoc Mon and Cu Chi, and 100 of them cost VND70,000 ($3). They are used to feed fish.

Occasionally, there are also frogs from Hoc Mon and Cu Chi, and 100 of them cost VND70,000 ($3). They are used to feed fish.

Ant eggs are not common and cost VND220,000 ($9.5) a kilogram. They are fed to fish.

Ant eggs are not common and cost VND220,000 ($9.51) a kilogram. They are fed to fish.

Nguyen Thi Bay, 48, of District 6, has nearly 10 years’ experience in buying insects. For her and her husband, it is the main source of income to support the family. One batch fetches them VND200,000 ($8.6).

Nguyen Thi Bay, 48, of District 6, has nearly 10 years’ experience in buying insects. For her and her husband, it is the main source of income to support the family. One batch fetches them VND200,000 ($8.65).

The market is in full swing by five o’clock as a throng of retailers come and grab their sacks.

The market is in full swing by five o’clock as a throng of retailers come and grab their sacks.

Huynh Thi Tu, 64, and her son are ready to carry away sacks of grasshoppers and superworms on their motorbike to a smaller retail insect market called Thuan Kieu in District 5. Many others also head to this market to sell their insects.

Huynh Thi Tu, 64, and her son are ready to carry away sacks of grasshoppers and superworms on their motorbike to a smaller retail insect market called Thuan Kieu in District 5. Many others also head to this market to sell their insects.

Bikes and trucks come and go hurriedly since the market has only until six o’clock to make way for other businesses.

Bikes and trucks come and go hurriedly since the market has only until six o’clock to make way for other businesses.

 
 
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