Life in Vietnam

Wednesday, 28/02/2018 09:57

Master interested in planting safe vegetables

Le Thi Thanh Thuy uses nylon bags to cover the vegetables to prevent insects, instead of using pesticide. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HA NOI — Le Dinh Qua, 37, was born in a farmer family in suburban Ha Noi.

His parents are not well-off, but they tried their best to help Qua study in the hope he would have better future than them.

Qua graduated from university and enrolled in the Agricultural Science Institute for Coastal South Central Viet Nam.

Qua then married Le Thi Thanh Thuy, from the central province of Quang Binh, also a worker of the institute. They have a house in Quy Nhon City, the central province of Binh Dinh and two children.

Qua received a master’s degree in 2015 and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) Viet Nam Project agreed to grant him scholarship to study for a PhD degree in Australia.

But, in the beginning of 2016, Qua and his wife shockingly decided to sell their house in Quy Nhon City to come to his wife’s hometown in Hoa Trach Commune, Bo Trach District to grow safe vegetables.

Le Thi Loi, Qua’s mother, said, “I was panic-stricken when hearing the news, and immediately went to Quang Binh Province.”

Loi pitied Qua and his wife, Thuy, who worked hard all day on their 2.5-hectare field.

“It is their decision, so I must please them,” she said.

Qua told Tien Phong, “To make the decision, my wife and I thought carefully after seeing the meals of many families are affected by pesticides. We wanted to do something to help the community and also help ourselves.”

Toward safe agriculture

Upon returning to Thuy’s hometown, they faced a lot of challenges.

All of the nearly VND600 million (US$26,600) from selling their house in Quy Nhon City was enough to buy a 2.5-hectare field in Quang Binh, far from any housing.

“Seeing gravels, rocks and stones around, I felt discouraged. When my hands bled as I didn’t know how to use a hoe, I burst into tears,” said Thuy.

“But then I thought about my husband’s back being full of sweat on sunny days, I was determined to help him realise his dream,” she said.

Overcoming obstacles, Qua and Thuy successfully set up a vegetable farm without using fertilisers or pesticide.

Qua said, “Planting safe and clean vegetables, I face a lot of risks and farm productivity is lower. Expenses for net systems and biological traps to prevent insects are high. But on the other hand, the products are safe for everybody, especially children.”

It is difficult to plant vegetables on hard soil, and it is even much more difficult to sell them. At first, many people did not believe that the vegetables did not use fertiliser or pesticides. Qua and Thuy went to schools hoping teachers would understand more about safe vegetables and food safety and hygiene.

Qua and his wife also invited principals of schools to visit their farms. Soon, orders for safe vegetables from schools increased.

“Selling vegetables in schools is not only work, but also a joy,” said Thuy.

“The profit is not much, but thinking that the students can use safe and clean vegetables, we work harder,” she said.

Thuy hopes that afterwards, their products will supply kitchens of hospitals, as it will be good nutrition for patients.

When the vegetables have a stable position in the local market, Qua and Thuy intend to guide local farmers to plant safe vegetables towards safe agriculture for future generations.

Qua also plans to research planting safe vegetables on hard soil in Quang Binh Province, hoping to expand the model. — VNS

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