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VietNamNews

Mechanic lightens rice farmers' burden

Update: June, 30/2013 - 00:00

A clever farmer in the mountains of Son La Province became tired of using cattle to pull his plough.

It was hard work and he did not plough much ground on the steep land.

So, he made a plough that used a motorbike engine instead of cattle.

This way he was able to plough much more land in much less time.

Now, he is selling his engine-powered ploughs to other farmers.

by Diep Huong

During the harvesting season, the terraced fields in the northeast of Viet Nam produce charming scenery that leaves a vivid imprint in every visitor's memory.

But while the vista may seem effortless and easy on the eye, those beautiful fields are actually the result of strenuous work and toil from the busy farmers.

Located high in the inaccessible mountains, farmers are forced to plough the narrow plateaus with buffalos and cows instead of machines, placing a burden on productivity.

Eager to help mountainous farmers reduce their labour and boost rice yield, 33 year-old mechanic Nguyen Anh Tuan successfully created a hand-held ploughing machine that is ideal for mountainous terrain.

Weighing 72kg, Tuan's machine can climb slopes of up to 65 degrees, is suitable for both ploughing and raking, and is easily transportable. In a single morning, it can plough nearly 2,000sq.m of sloping terrain, equivalent to four times the capability of cattle.

Tuan, from It Ong Town in the northwestern province of Son La, has invented a system of ploughing which can dig 18cm deep into the earth. The machine functions with four types of wheels, which can be changed according to the terrain.

Notably, the machine has a system of floating wheels, to protect it from the familiar ploughing pitfall of sinking into the soil.

Furthermore, in comparison to Chinese and Japanese ploughing machines (which cost over US$1,500 each), Tuan's plough is much more affordable for Vietnamese farmers, selling at VND16 million ($800).

It is hard to believe that this versatile machine is the invention of a mechanic who finished his education after the 11th grade.

In 1999, Tuan, together with his family, moved to It Ong Town to open a workshop.

Despite being born outside Son La Province, since marrying a local ethnic girl the mechanic has come to consider the place as his new hometown.

Observing the abundance of cultivating soil in the area, Tuan had long-considered the potential for a machine that could plough the mountains and reward local farmers for their considerable toil.

For a long time Tuan was seen working silently with the motorbike engine-powered machine on the fields, taking down measurements and tinkering with his toy.

He recalls: "During the days I tinkered with the machine, there were two old local men working on fields nearby. Noticing my machine, they offered encouragement: 'Try to finish it so we farmers don't have to work so hard. Please tell us if we can help you at all.'"

It was encouragement such as this that inspired Tuan to pursue his project to completion.

He doesn't remember how many times he suffered a near-miss but the amount of scrap iron left after he finished machine sold for VND63 million ($3,150).

Recalling the early stages of the process, Tuan says: "Due to my lack of mechanical knowhow, I took great efforts to travel across the country studying ways to invent the ploughing machine."

He even spent VND100 million ($5,000) buying foreign ploughing machines just to study their make-up.

On May 2010, Tuan debuted his ploughing machine out on the field, drawing the attention of many villagers. Seeing his invention making swift progress, they started to have confidence in Tuan's "steel buffalo". His two first machines were given to the district for sample use and build a buzz among the villagers.

To satisfy market demand, in April 2011 Tuan and some villagers, established the Youth's Co-operative of Farm Machines and Home Craft Service, which focuses on producing hand-held ploughing machines. The co-operative has provided jobs for nearly 20 workers, whose average salary is around VND4,5 million ($225) each per year.

When demand increased, Tuan bravely borrowed VND400million ($20,000) from the National Fund for Employment Support to expand production. He used the money to extend his workshop and buy machinery to produce more ploughing machines.

In recognition of his ground-breaking invention, Nguyen Anh Tuan received the 2010 Luong Dinh Cua Award (a prestigious accolade for young inventors) from the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.

Tuan's machine is also among 45 creative products to receive the certificate of merit at the 5th National Festival of Young Creators last November.

Tuan's co-operative has so far sold 70 ploughing machines and this figure could be much higher, but they have had to refuse a number of orders due to the limited capacity of their workshop. Tuan has also turned down several offers from investors for the patent to his "steel buffalo".

"The ploughing machine is like my own child. Moreover, my wife was born here, so in some ways it is a gift for my wife's hometown," Tuan says. — VNS

GLOSSARY

During the harvesting season, the terraced fields in the northeast of Viet Nam produce charming scenery that leaves a vivid imprint in every visitor's memory.

An imprint of something is copy of it that seems as if it has been put there using a rubber stamp.

A vivid imprint is one that very bright and alive.

But while the vista may seem effortless and easy on the eye, those beautiful fields are actually the result of strenuous work and toil from the busy farmers.

A vista means a view.

Strenuous work and toil is very hard work that would need someone strong to do.

Located high in the inaccessible mountains, farmers are forced to plough the narrow plateaus with buffalos and cows instead of machines, placing a burden on productivity.

Places that are inaccessible are very hard to get to.

A plateau is a flat area of land at a high altitude.

If something places a burden on productivity, it makes it difficult to do important things, such as growing food.

Eager to help mountainous farmers reduce their labour and boost rice yield, 33 year-old mechanic Nguyen Anh Tuan successfully created a hand-held ploughing machine that is ideal for mountainous terrain.

When farmers reduce their labour, it means they need to do less work – either by doing less work themselves or not having to give other people jobs in order to get their work done.

To boost rice yield means to increase the amount of rice that is produced.

Terrain means land.

Weighing 72kg, Tuan's machine can climb slopes of up to 65 degrees, is suitable for both ploughing and raking, and is easily transportable.

To rake something means to make it neat.

Something that is transportable can be taken from one place to another. It may be by foot, on horseback, by car, by bus, by tractor, by aircraft … anyhow!

Furthermore, in comparison to Chinese and Japanese ploughing machines (which cost over US$1,500 each), Tuan's plough is much more affordable for Vietnamese farmers, selling at VND16million ($800).

If something is affordable, it is not so expensive that people do not have enough money to buy it.

It is hard to believe that this versatile machine is the invention of a mechanic who finished his education after the 11th grade.

Something that is versatile can do many different things. In this case, Tuan's machine is versatile because it can plough as well as rake. It can also use four different types of wheels, which means it can be used in four different types of fields.

Despite being born outside Son La Province, since marrying a local ethnic girl the mechanic has come to consider the place as his new hometown.

Somebody who is local to a district comes from that district. Ethnic people are those that belong to a certain community of people who usually all speak the same language, follow much the same religion and are of the same race.

Observing the abundance of cultivating soil in the area, Tuan had long-considered the potential for a machine that could plough the mountains and reward local farmers for their considerable toil.

If something is in abundance there is a lot of it.

Potential means having the possibility to be something. In this case, Tuan thought that his machine would have a chance to be a success in the mountainous farmland.

For a long time Tuan was seen working silently with the motorbike engine-powered machine on the fields, taking down measurements and tinkering with his toy.

Tinkering with something means playing around with it.

"Noticing my machine, they offered encouragement: 'Try to finish it so we farmers don't have to work so hard. Please tell us if we can help you at all.'"

When people offer encouragement they say nice things to someone to make them want to do something.

He doesn't remember how many times he suffered a near-miss but the amount of scrap iron left after he finished machine sold for VND63 million ($3,150).

Scrap iron is iron that is garbage and not needed for anything.

On May 2010, Tuan debuted his ploughing machine out on the field, drawing the attention of many villagers. Seeing his invention making swift progress, they started to have confidence in Tuan's "steel buffalo". His two first machines were given to the district for sample use and build a buzz among the villagers.

To debut something means to show it off to people for the very first time. In this case, it is Tuan showing people his ploughing machine for the first time.

By having confidence in Tuan's new plough, villagers believed that it would work.

To satisfy market demand, in April 2011 Tuan and some villagers, established the Youth's Co-operative of Farm Machines and Home Craft Service, which focuses on producing hand-held ploughing machines.

Market demand means how much people want to buy something. To satisfy market demand means to have enough of something to sell in order to keep buyers happy.

To focus on something means to give time and attention to it. In this case, it means that the co-operative makes only hand-held ploughing machines, nothing else.

In recognition of his ground-breaking invention, Nguyen Anh Tuan received the 2010 Luong Dinh Cua Award (a prestigious accolade for young inventors) from the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.

If something is ground-breaking, it makes a big difference.

A prestigious accolade is a very smart award.

Tuan's machine is also among 45 creative products to receive the certificate of merit at the 5th National Festival of Young Creators last November.

Things that are creative have been made with the help of a lot of imagination.

Tuan's co-operative has so far sold 70 ploughing machines and this figure could be much higher, but they have had to refuse a number of orders due to the limited capacity of their workshop.

If a workshop has limited capacity, it is not big enough or does not have enough tools to produce more of something. In this case, Tuan's workshop is too small to be able to make many more ploughs.

Tuan has also turned down several offers from investors for the patent to his "steel buffalo".

Investors are people who put money into something in the hope of making more money from it.

A patent is a special right someone has to something they have invented or designed.

WORKSHEET

State which of the following are true, or false.

1.      Son La province is in northwest Viet Nam.

2.      Nguyen Anh Tuan thought up every idea towards making his ploughing machine by staying in the town of It Ong and never going anywhere else to learn about ploughs.

3.      The Luong Dinh Cua Award is a special award for people who invent things.

4.      Nguyen Anh Tuan's wife comes from Ho Chi Minh City.

5.      The town of It Ong is in Son La province.

ANSWERS:

This page has been developed in cooperation with Duncan Guy, founder and editor of Learn the News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. False; 5. True.

 



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