Worm export business

Worm export business

With the cool season coming, Isan villagers prepare to dig up worms for export to China, earning 20-30,000 baht per household.

Baan Tal villagers dry worms after gutting and cleaning them. They will be exported mainly to China and Taiwan. PATTANAPONG SRIPIENCHAI


Worm Smoothies

Villagers dig up dirty gold in the winter, exporting to sate odd Chinese tastes.


Pattanapong Sripienchai

The inhabitants of Baan Tal in Na Wa district of Nakhon Phanom earn their living from rice and crop farming, much the same as other villagers in Thailand. But some have taken up an odd job to earn extra income - digging up earthworms for export.

Winter is the perfect season for the villagers to get up early and unearth earthworms because of the cool weather, said Nongnuch Saengphaidaeng, a local.

"Earthworms will migrate from dry, hot places to cold, moist areas. The morning is the easiest time to catch them," said Ms Nongnuch, 36.

The earthworms will be cleaned, processed and dried for sale to traders, who export the worms, mainly to China and Taiwan as the main ingredient for their energy drinks.

Many Chinese believe drinks with components of earthworms, geckoes or leeches will give them powerful strength.

Ms Nongnuch said the value of live earthworms is 20 baht a kilogramme, while it is 200 baht per kg for the dried product.

Villagers can make over 1,000 baht a day, she said.

Vira Rerkvanichkul, the chief of Na Wa, estimates sales of earthworms in the district exceed 10 million baht a year, with each household earning income of 20,000 to 30,000 baht every season.

Digging up worms or other exotic creatures like geckoes is common for people in the Northeast, as such work has been going on for over two decades.

Mr Vira plans to talk with government agencies about the possibilities of running an earthworm business year-round instead of seasonally. He wants the activity to be ecologically sound and it must not disturb local residents due to the smell of the production process.

Earthworms have various uses. The Thaiwormclub reports the US and Europe use them as fishing bait, while some Asian consumers process the worms for pick-me-up drinks.

The US is the biggest earthworm producer, followed by India and Thailand.

Popular earthworm species for breeding and selling in the international market include tiger worms (Eisenia foetida), one of the most expensive species, selling for about 3,000 baht per kg in the US and 5,000 baht in Thailand, and African nightcrawlers (Eudrilus eugeniae), ranging from 600 to 1,500 baht per kg.

The most prevalent species here are pheretima peguana, blue worms, and pheretima posthuma, which have export prices ranging from 150 to 1,000 baht per kg.


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  • activity (noun): a thing that you do for work, interest or pleasure, or in order to achieve a particular aim - กิจกรรม
  • agency (noun): a government department that provides a particular service - หน่วยงานราชการ
  • bait: food used for attracting and catching fish, birds, or animals - เหยื่อ
  • breeding: the producing of young animals, plants, etc - การผสมพันธุ์สัตว์เพื่อขยายพันธุ์
  • common: ordinary; not unusual or special - ธรรมดา; สิ่งที่เห็นได้บ่อยๆ
  • component: a part which combines with other parts to form something bigger - ส่วนประกอบ,ส่วนเสริม
  • consumer: someone who buys and uses goods and services - ผู้บริโภค
  • creature: anything that lives except plants - สิ่งมีชีวิต (คน, สัตว์)
  • crop: a plant grown for food, usually on a farm - พืชผล
  • decades: periods of ten years - เป็นสิบๆปี
  • disturb: to move or change something from its usual position, arrangement, condition or shape - รบกวน
  • due to: because of - เนื่องจาก
  • earn a living: to earn enough money to support yourself/your family - หาเลี้ยงชีพ
  • earthworm: a worm that lives in the ground and makes dirt good for plants to grow in -
  • ecological: of the system of relationships between the air, land, water, animals, plants, etc., usually of a particular area - เกี่ยวกับความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างสิ่งมีชีวิตในระบบนิเวศน์
  • estimate: an amount that you guess or calculate using the information available - ประมาณการ
  • exceed: to be more than something; to go beyond a limit - เกินกว่าที่กำหนด
  • exotic: interesting or exciting because of being unusual or not familiar - ผิดธรรมดา,ประหลาด
  • export: the selling and transporting of goods to another country - สินค้าออก, การส่งสินค้าออกไปต่างประเทศ
  • gecko: a small lizard (= a type of reptile ) that lives in warm countries - ตุ๊กแก
  • household: a group of people, often a family, who live together - ครัวเรือน
  • income: money that someone gets from working or from investing money - รายได้
  • ingredient: one of the substances that are combined to make something - ส่วนผสม
  • inhabitants : people or animals that live in an area - สิ่งมีชีวิตในบริเวณ
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • locals: people who live in a particular place - ชาวบ้าน
  • migrate: to move from one place to another as seasons change - อพยพ (ตามฤดูกาล)
  • moist: containing water; slightly wet - เปียกชื้น
  • odd jobs: different kinds of small jobs, done around the home or to make money -
  • pick-me-up drinks: drinks that you drink to get energy when you are tired -
  • possibility: the fact that something might exist or happen, but is not certain to - สิ่งที่เป็นไปได้
  • prevalent: that exists or is very common at a particular time or in a particular place - ที่พบได้บ่อยๆ, แพร่หลาย
  • process: a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result - แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
  • producer: a person, a company or a country that grows or makes food, goods or materials - ผู้ผลิต
  • production process: the series of actions taken to produce a product - ขั้นตอนการผลิต
  • range: to have an upper and a lower limit in amount, number, etc - ผันแปรภายในขอบเขตหนึ่ง
  • report (verb): to tell someone officially that something exists or happened - รายงาน
  • resident: a person who lives in a particular area - ผู้ที่อาศัยในท้องที่
  • sate: satisfy, to give someone they want -
  • season (noun): a period of time during the year - ฤดูกาล, ช่วงเวลา, ระยะเวลา
  • sound: sensible; that you can rely on and that will probably give good results - ไม่มีข้อบกพร่อง, ที่ไม่เสียหาย
  • species: on kind or variety of plant or animal -
  • tastes (noun): the things that a person likes -
  • trader: someone who buys and sells things - ผู้ค้า
  • unearth: to find something that is buried in the ground - ขุดขึ้นมา
  • various: several different - หลากหลาย, ซึ่งแตกต่างกัน
  • worm: a long thin creature with no bones or legs, that lives in soil - หนอน
  • year-round: doing for the whole year without stopping, without a break -
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