Reptile farming as a response to livelihood insecurity in the Mekong Delta

Patrick Aust
Publié: 18 novembre 2022
Dernière modification: 18 novembre 2022
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Extreme weather events and disease outbreaks represent growing threats to chicken and pig farmers in the Mekong delta. As an alternative, reptiles are a popular choice for many of the  21 million residents. Because of the physioloigcal efficiency attributes of reptiles (e.g., ectothermic or “cold-blooded”), many reptile production models have the potential to be economically viable and ecologically sustainable. A study published in 2009 in the International Journal of Food Microbiology found that the most significant microbiological risk associated with eating reptiles is Salmonella, and a growing body of evidence suggests birds and mammals represent the greatest zoonotic disease threat. In effect, reptile farming helps to build resilience in local agri-food systems and minimise the prevalence of zoonotic diseases.


Afrique de l'Est et du Sud
Afrique occidentale et centrale
Amérique centrale
Amérique du Sud
Asie de l'Est
Asie du Sud-Est
Ampleur de la mise en œuvre
Terres cultivées
Écosystème agricole
Accès et partage des avantages
Acteurs locaux
Adaptation au changement climatique
Gestion des déchets
Moyens d'existence durables
Services écosystèmiques
Une seule santé
Santé animale
Lien entre la biodiversité et la santé
Systèmes agro-alimentaires
Aspects sanitaires liés aux facteurs socio-économiques tels que la pauvreté, l'éducation, les structures de sécurité sociale, digitalisation, les systèmes de financement et le développement des capacités humaines
Maladies tropicales négligées, maladies infectieuses émergentes, maladies non- transmissibles, zoonoses, résistance aux agents antimicrobiens
Cyclones tropicaux / typhons
Utilisations conflictuelles / impacts cumulatifs
Développement d’infrastructure
Extraction de ressources matérielles
Changements dans le contexte socio-culturel
Manque d'infrastructures
Manque de capacités techniques
Objectifs de développement durable
ODD 1 - Pas de pauvreté
ODD 2 - Faim "zéro"
ODD 3 - Bonne santé et bien-être
ODD 8 - Travail décent er croissance économique
ODD 9 - Industrie, innovation et infrastructure
ODD 10 - Inégalités réduites
ODD 11 - Villes et communautés durables
ODD 12 - Consommation et production responsables
Objectifs d’Aichi
Objectif 1: Sensibilisation accrue de la biodiversité
Objectif 2: Valeurs de la biodiversité intégrées
Objectif 3: Attraits réformées
Objectif 4: Production et consommation durables
Objectif 7: Agriculture, aquaculture et sylviculture durable
Objectif 8: Pollution réduite
Objectif 14: Services des écosystèmes
Objectif 16: Accès et le partage des avantages tirés des ressources génétiques
Objectif 19: Partage de l'information et de la connaissance
Cadre de Sendai
1: Réduire nettement, au niveau mondial, d’ici à 2030, la mortalité due aux catastrophes.
2: Réduire nettement, d’ici à 2030, le nombre de personnes touchées par des catastrophes.
3: Réduire, d’ici à 2030, les pertes économiques directes dues aux catastrophes en proportion du produit intérieur brut (PIB).
Approches pour l’engagement des entreprises
Engagement direct avec une entreprise
Engagement direct avec des associations
Soumission (I)NDC


Mekong Delta, Vietnam | Thailand, China, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Kenya, United States, Namibia, Australia, Cambodia, Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia, and Brazil.


Vietnam has a rich culinary history in agrobiodiversity, including the consumption of reptiles. Challenges such as droughts, heatwaves, pandemics, greenhouse gas emission, and resource deficiencies are undermining mainstream livestock industries. Commercial bottlenecks and investment bias towards conventional corporate livestock systems have handicapped the development of localised, more sustainable and resilient alternatives such as reptile farming. 


Primary beneficiaries include farmers in the Mekong Delta and the communities they support. Secondary beneficiaries include billions people in tropical countries who traditionally eat reptile meat.

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

 Legal and policy frameworks are essential prerequisites for reptile farming. These are not always easy to develop given the temporal and spacial proximity to stringent conservation regulations and wildlife trade laundering. Education and awareness at all stakeholder levels are important to justify legal and policy frameworks and consider the interactions with broader sustainablity criteria (e.g., conservation, environment pollution risks, and social upliftment). Farming reptiles requires specialist skills and considerations. Resolving the lack of skills and precedent amongst the farming community requires training and capacity development. Once equipped with technical knowhow, low start-up and running costs coupled with diverse business opportunities provide small-scale farmers with an attractive proposition. Mitigating risks associated with human and animal health will require ongoing multidisiplinary and cross-cutting research in areas such as water pollution and infectous diseases linked to reptile production systems.


As ectotherms, reptiles are physiologically different to humans. Zoonotic disease transmission requires mutually compatible physiological environments. Reptiles are carriers of zoonotic bacteria such as Salmonella, but they have never been linked to any major viral pandemics. 


Reptiles require ~90% less food inputs compared to warm-blooded livestock. The metabolic efficiency of reptiles means that production systems typically require less food and freshwater compared to warmblooded livestock. They also produce comparatively little waste or greenhouse gasses.


That said, emperical evidence on the broader risks to human health (e.g., wild harvested rodents fed to captive reptiles) and environmental sustainaibliy (e.g., water pollution) is lacking and requires further investigation. 


The ability to regulate metabolic rate allows some reptile species to drink and feed intermittently. Flexible metabolic rates help to dampen the impacts of volatile supply chains. For example, pythons can survive for several months without food or water, and are thus able to withstand the impacts of extreme weather events.


Reptile meat is high in protein and low in saturated fats. Reptile farms provide a source of nutrient-dense food in parts of the world where malnutrition and childhood stunting are increasing due to poverty.


Patrick Aust

Nguyen Van Tri is a farmer near Cau Mau in the Mekong Delta. He owns 10 acres on which he grows rice, vegetables, and bananas. He has two fish ponds and raises a small number of ducks and chickens around his homestead. The produce from his farm feeds his family of six and generates a small profit. In recent years, drought, storm surge, and salinization from a neighbouring shrimp farm have reduced his rice harvest. Disease has also taken a toll on his poultry. Five years ago he started snake farming after reading an article in the local newspaper. He bought his initial stock from a breeding farm near Ho Chi Minh City and built cages using cheap, local materials. It was easy to set up, and because he feeds his snakes on rodent pests he traps around his rice fields, his running costs are minimal. The work is easy and requires comparatively few inputs. Mr. Nguyen doesn’t have to rely so heavily on his rice harvest anymore, and because his snakes can survive months without food, he doesn’t have to worry about fluctuations in the local rodent population; he simply feeds as much as he can whenever he can. Recently he bought a new moped with the money he made from the sale of snake skins. To celebrate, Mrs Nguyen cooked a snake hot pot using a traditional recipe passed down by her grandmother.

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Patrick Aust Backyard Pythons