Hi-tech farmers in Da Lat

Farmer Hai talks about his method (Photo: SGGP)

Farmers in the central highlands town of Da Lat of Lam Dong gradually forget the concept “Farming is back-breaking work”. Instead, farmers work in plant tissue culture laboratories and create high quality, disease-resistant breeds of plants or press buttons to adjust the system for fertilizing, watering and air-conditioning for plants.

In the final days of 2016, when I phoned farmer Nguyen Dang Hien who live at Thai Phien Flower Village in Da Lat City for an appointment, Hien said that the visit must be three days later because his lab is sterilized now, explaining more that the lab must be pasteurized half a month or else seedlings will be contaminated with bacteria.

Nguyen Dang Hien is considered as one of those who built the foundation of  asexual reproduction for flower in the village. During many years of producing seedlings of sexual reproduction for flower, he realized that the production methodology showed its shortcomings. Accordingly, he spent all his money to set up the lab in 1997.

At that time, conception of lab for planting flower was strange for locals; therefore, he spent time reading books and searching documents in internet.

“I had a bit of a rough time because no-one in Da Lat had done it before so I could not learn from anyone”, Hien said. He spent days to work in the garden and night to read documents and practice in the lab. He had to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City for buying document, machine and fertilizer.

His efforts have been met with success. Chrysanthemums seedlings planted in the lab developed strongly, enhanced resistance to bacterial diseases and its quality is higher than seedings planted under traditional methodology. Accordingly Hien continued propagating asexually Laba bananas, strawberry and artichoke and he got success again.

Another guy is  Le Van Hai who has attached himself to a flower growing career since the 1980s and known as a pioneer in plant tissue culture technique.

Being a real farmer, Hai received the author in his white blouse. Carefully lifting up boxes of seeding, he talked about propagation process like an agriculture engineer from seedling selection, monitoring fertilizer, and stages of plant development.

Setting up his own lab 15 years ago, he ran it by himself but later when the lab was expanded to 100 meter square, he hired five engineers of plant tissue culture technique which requires high investment and time cost yet it shows advantages more than the traditional method.

Workers in a farm pack orchid flower for export to Japan (Photo: SGGP)

Nowadays, many farmers in Da Lat have spent billions of dong to build laboratories. As per a statistics of the city’s agriculture sector, 50 labs of plant tissue method have been set up to provide markets with 30 million seedlings annually.

When it comes to agricultural technology, it should be mentioned to hydroponic technique in which crops are grown in horizontal stacks of plant beds, without soil but water with nutritious substance for plants.

Owner of farm Phong Thuy in Duc Trong District Nguyen Hong Phong said that plants are grown in hydroponic which is free of pesticides and fertilizer. His farm is a 12 hectare glasshouse which is installed with a special system to reduce the heat and drive away insects.

Phong said he invested VND6 billion ($265,616) per hectare and he earned income of VND5-6 billion per hectare yearly, tenfold times compared to traditional growing owner of Bach Cuc farm in Lac Duong District Pham Thi Thu Cuc decided to follow hydroponic because she wants to provide totally fresh veggies to consumers. Nutrient in water for plants are imported from Europe or made as per European standards.

Accordingly, veggies grown in hydroponic are called “farm-to-table” produce, said Ms. Cuc.

By Nam Vien – translated by Đan Thùy

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