Where pigs are hugged to bring home the bacon

By Dac Thanh   January 24, 2019 | 04:15 pm GMT+7

At the 43-year-old Ba Ren Market, a handful of people make a living as ‘pig huggers’ who make it easy to weigh the swine.

Piglets for sale at South Central Vietnams 50 years-old pig market (unedited)

The market in Que Son District, central Quang Nam Province, 41 km south of Da Nang City, welcomes more than 100 buyers and sellers every day.

Formed at the end of 1975, the one-hectare market is located off National Highway 1A and operates from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m, mainly trading in piglets 1 to 3 months old.

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Tran Van Tien, resident of a nearby town called Nam Phuoc has nearly 30 years of experience in pig trading.

He said that every day he wakes up at 3 a.m. to buy pigs from farmers and bring them to the market. "Every day I sell more than 20 piglets, earning a few hundred thousand dong ($1 = VND23,196)."

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Pigs are confined in iron or bamboo cages or baskets. Each basket hosts about 7-8 piglets.

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One-month-old white pigs typically sell for VND250,000 to 350,000 ($10.79 - 15.11) each; two to three months old pigs between VND600,000 and 800,000 ($25.9 - 34.5).

Pigs weighing over 100 kg costs from VND40,000 to 50,000 ($1.73 -2.16) per kg.

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Tran Thi Thao brought 12 white pigs to the market and collected over VND3 million for them ($129).

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Nguyen Thi Lan, who bought these two pigs for nearly VND2 million ($86), said that this is a fertile breed and have good rearing abilities.

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Because the pig does not stand still on the scale, the buyer pays a pig "hugger" to stand on the scale. Then the person is weighed for the buyer to determine the pig's weight.

"At the market, there are about six people who specialize in 'hugging' pigs for weighing purposes. They earn VND500 for each piglet and VND1,000 (less than a cent) for each adult pig," said Tran Thi Thao, who has worked in the market for more than 20 years.

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After weighing the pigs, the pig huggers put them in the cage for buyers.

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The market has about three trucks parked outside waiting to be stocked with pigs that are then taken to mountainous districts of Quang Nam Province and some neighboring provinces.

Pham Cu, the market manager, said every day about 100 people come to buy and sell nearly 1,000 pigs at the Ba Ren market. The market remains closed on the first and 15th day of every lunar month, which are auspicious days in the Buddhist calendar.

 
 
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