Khanh An commune is located in the buffer zone of the U Minh Ha National Park where local livelihoods depend mainly on forestry. In between forest harvests, which occur every 5 years, two rice crops are rotated each year to supplement local incomes. But the local soil does not produce high rice yields. Over the past few years, a number of households have switched to growing cattails instead of rice.
Cattails are commonly found in marshes, shallow ponds, wet meadows, and ditches with slow moving water. The plant is resistant to saltwater and can survive under deep water for significant periods of time. Cattails produce medicines that are used to treat many diseases.
Tang Van Thang’s family is one of the leaders in growing cattails in hamlet 14 of Khanh An commune.
He said: “The model has given us an income several times higher than growing bananas or rice. We earn nearly 1,300 USD a month from 1.5 hectares of cattails. After deducting our costs, our net profit is almost 430 USD.”
In the past, life was hard for the family of Quách Minh Hòa, head of hamlet 14. They earned less than 100 US dollars from harvesting 2.2 tons of rice on one hectare. Over the past two years, Hoa has switched to growing cattails. This has given the family enough money to improve their living conditions.
“Growing cattails is 3 or 4 times as profitable as growing rice. We can earn 8.6 dollars a day from simply picking cattails in the fields and 43 cents per hour if we work indoors,” said Hoa.
| Growing cattails is helping local households in U Minh Ha area escape from poverty.
According to the locals, when the rainy season begins, cattails will grow. Fresh cattails can be sold for 85 cents to more than 1 dollar per kilo.
Hoa said: “We are expanding the model across the locality. Local farmers agree to this plan because it is so profitable. The commune People’s Committee has approved a model of growing cattails in combination with raising fish.”
Cattails have become the region’s new specialty cuisine. The cattail farming model has been increasing the incomes of farmers throughout Khanh An commune and U Minh district. Cattail growers have been encouraged to start cooperatives.
Wholesale traders in Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta provinces have established agents in U Minh district to buy cattails for wider distribution and eventual export.