|Asparagus being sorted at the collection station of the Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative. (Photo: qdnd.vn)
An Hai commune has the hottest, driest climate in Ninh Thuan, which makes it extremely hard to grow anything.
12 years ago, the commune’s farmers decided to switch to a crop better suited to the local climate and soil - green asparagus. That decision was a breakthrough for the local economy and has made the farmers rich.
In 2010, An Hai commune piloted one hectare of asparagus. Since then the growing area has expanded to more than 110 ha, half of which belongs to the Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative in Tuan Tu hamlet.
The asparagus variety used by An Hai commune is one from the Netherlands because of its high yield and good quality. One hectare produces 5 to 7 kilos a day and sells in the market for more than 2 dollars a kilo. That means a farmer can net up to 16,000 USD a year from one hectare of asparagus.
Hung Ky is one of the top earners in Tuan Tu hamlet. Growing asparagus has helped his family, once a poor household, get rich. He now holds the position of Director of the Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative.
Ky recalled, “In August 2016, the then Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited my family and praised asparagus for helping farmers get rich. If you have 1,000 m2 of land, you can make 20 USD from harvesting asparagus each morning. One hectare of asparagus can generate revenue of nearly 41,000 USD a year, so local farmers are happy. Asparagus can be grown and harvested all year round. The Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative contracts with businesses to buy all the farmers produce.”
|Leaders of An Hai commune and the Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative visit the asparagus farm of Nao Van Xay (second from left).
Nao Van Xay, a An Hai villager and Cooperative member, said that for poor households that don’t have capital, the Cooperative provides the variety for free.
“Villagers have been invited to attend workshops and at the end of the year, the Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative organizes study tours for them to visit and exchange production experience. As a result, the local farmers have gotten heavily involved in growing asparagus, and 80% of the households in Tuan Tu hamlet have escaped poverty,” said Xay.
An Hai officials are encouraging local farmers to expand production and made asparagus their main crop. Loan policies have encouraged credit institutions to give local farmers easier access. The use of advanced technology has increased in production, sales, and distribution.
According to Ho Thanh Phong, Vice Chairman of the An Hai commune People's Committee, “The asparagus growing model should be developed to meet the VietGap standards for organic production.”
An Hai has one cooperative plus groups in charge of gathering and purchasing what the farmers produce. The local authority has provided farmers support in varieties, farming techniques, and training courses in production and harvesting methods, and issuing VietGap certificates. Asparagus has increased farmers’ income, said Phong.