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Farmer produces essential oils

Update: February, 18/2017 - 09:00
Nủ, the 23-yeal-old Mông man, is owner of H’mông Cát Cát, the largest co-operative producing essential oil in Sa Pa Town.
Viet Nam News

A man called Má A Nủ from the northern province of Lào Cai was once a poor farmer.

Then he heard about making essential oils from wild plants.

By going into this kind of business he is not only making money but also keeping alive people’s knowledge of how to use essential oils.

Má A Nủ has also been able to provide work for other people.

By Minh Thu

Sheltering under a canopy of wild trees in Sa Pa Town, in the northern province of Lào Cai, Má A Nủ holds a hook knife, used to collect herbs which are the source of various kinds of essential oils.

Nủ, 23, an ethnic Mông man, is the owner of Mông Cát Cát, the largest co-operative producing essential oils in Sa Pa. He has managed to generate a good income for himself, and has created jobs for many Mông people.

Nủ’s father passed away when he was in secondary school. A life of poverty forced him to give up studying and begin farming work to support his mother.

His life changed after a visit to a friend in Bản Khoang Commune, Sa Pa District, where a number of households had joined a project growing and distilling essential oil herbs. Unfortunately many households failed to earn a decent living from the project, and soon returned to rice and maize farming.

But Nủ himself found he had a strong interest in producing essential oils. He tried hard to learning the techniques from the project and returned to home town to develop the process for himself.

“The more I learned, the more passionate I became,” said Nủ.

“I spent a year and a half learning the techniques from other people, then I went to nearby forests to research local trees.”

Sa Pa Town is located in a mountainous region with an abundance of forests, home to many valuable plants and herbs that can produce essential oils.

Nủ said he wanted to introduce people to the specialities of his hometown, specially oils extracted from wild plants and herbs in service of health care.

The Cát Cát Co-operative was established in 2015 to produce natural essential oils, herbal soaps and salt from local materials.

“The products are traditional herbal medicines of the Mông in Sa Pa, made from hundreds of herbs in the forest,” said Nủ. “This is not only about commercial business, but also about preserving the valuable medicinal knowledge of the Mông, and introducing to people around the country.”

“I hope that I can earn money from the available local resources, producing high quality products which meet market requirements.”

His mother, Vàng Thị Tòng, 53, was nervous when Nủ told her he wanted to produce essential oils.

“I didn’t think that he would be successful because we Mông people often use herbs to take a bath and cure our wounds at home. How can Nủ think of selling oils extracted from those plants?” said Tòng.

“I was sure he wouldn’t be able to sell his products, but he explained to me that he studied the techniques carefully and he wanted to try a new business. It may help us escape from poverty. I sold our only buffalo, the family’s most valuable asset, in order to support him financially.”

Nủ would lose himself on his hunts for herbs and plants in the forest. He would often return with a backpack full of herbs and an empty stomach.

“I began with a 100-litre capacity autoclave,” said Nủ. After one day, exhausted and ecstatic, he extracted his first drops of essential oil.

However, after an initial period, he soon realized he would have to invest in large-scale production.

Nủ began his journey with knowledge, experience, self-confidence and hope, but faced a number of obstacles.

Struggles in getting other people involved, a lack of money to buy machinery, and trouble preserving the materials and finished products were difficult challenges to overcome. The pressure of selling products was constantly on the young man.

Relying on entrepreneurial spirit, Nủ sold his products to tourists in town and at local resorts and spa parlours, and took advantage of social networks to advertise and distribute the essential oils.

Now his products are available not only in Sa Pa but also Hà Nội, HCM City and Bình Dương Province.

“I now have contracts to provide aromatic herbal products to 10 resorts and spa parlours. I have been able to get more people involved in working for my co-operative. They have a stable job and salary,” Nủ.

His speciality products include essential oils of Ocimum gratissimum, mint, lemon grass, cinnamon, orange, and ginger; as well as herbal bath salt and herbal soaps.

“These products have antibacterial properties, help ease muscle soreness, and thicken and promote hair growth,” said Nủ.

“They can be used as fragrances in the home, for facial cleansing, hair care, and nourishing the skin.”

Due to a large demand for materials, Nủ has enlisted local people to grow herbs and supply raw materials for him. Now he has 12 households involved in production. Instead of picking wild herbs in the forests, he has a stable source of raw materials and the growers get stable incomes in return.

Vàng A Căn, 22, a member of the Cát Cát Co-operative, said Nủ’s had eased the life of many local people.

“We never thought the wild mountain plants and herbs could be used to earn a better living,” said Căn. “Nủ represents the younger generation of Mông people, with a strong will and progressive attitude to improve their livelihoods.” VNS


 

 

GLOSSARY

 

Sheltering under a canopy of wild trees in Sa Pa Town, in the northern province of Lào Cai, Má A Nủ holds a hook knife, used to collect herbs which are the source of various kinds of essential oils.

A herb is any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavouring, food, medicine, or perfume.

Essential means useful and very necessary.

Nủ, 23, an ethnic Mông man, is the owner of Mông Cát Cát, the largest co-operative producing essential oils in Sa Pa. He has managed to generate a good income for himself, and has created jobs for many Mông people.

Your income is your money that you earn.

Nủ’s father passed away when he was in secondary school. A life of poverty forced him to give up studying and begin farming work to support his mother.

Passed away” is a gentle way of saying that somebody has died.

Poverty is a state of being very poor.

His life changed after a visit to a friend in Bản Khoang Commune, Sa Pa District, where a number of households had joined a project growing and distilling essential oil herbs.

To distil means to get a very pure form of a liquid by heating it so that it becomes vapours and then condensing the vapour. 

 “The more I learned, the more passionate I became,” said Nủ.

To be passionate about something means to do it with passion, which means to not worry about how much time or money you spend on it.

“I spent a year and a half learning the techniques from other people, then I went to nearby forests to research local trees.”

Techniques are ways of doing things.

To research local trees means to find out more about them.

Sa Pa Town is located in a mountainous region with an abundance of forests, home to many valuable plants and herbs that can produce essential oils.

If there is an abundance of forests, there are many forests.

Nủ said he wanted to introduce people to the specialities of his hometown, specially oils extracted from wild plants and herbs in service of health care.

If oils are extracted from wild plants they are taken out of the plants.

“This is not only about commercial business, but also about preserving the valuable medicinal knowledge of the Mông, and introducing to people around the country.”

A commercial business is one that aims to make profits in money.

Preserving means keeping.

“I didn’t think that he would be successful because we Mông people often use herbs to take a bath and cure our wounds at home.”

To cure means to heal.

Wounds are injuries.

I sold our only buffalo, the family’s most valuable asset, in order to support him financially.”

An asset is something that can be sold to give you cash.

To support someone financially means to help them with money.

“I began with a 100-litre capacity autoclave,” said Nủ. After one day, exhausted and ecstatic, he extracted his first drops of essential oil.

An autoclave is a container in which chemical reactions can be carried out under high temperature and pressure.

However, after an initial period, he soon realized he would have to invest in large-scale production.

An initial period is the first period.

To invest means to pay money into a project in the hope of making more money from it.

Nủ began his journey with knowledge, experience, self-confidence and hope, but faced a number of obstacles.

Self-confidence means believing in yourself.

Relying on entrepreneurial spirit, Nủ sold his products to tourists in town and at local resorts and spa parlours, and took advantage of social networks to advertise and distribute the essential oils.

Entrepreneurial means to do with turning ideas into businesses.

“I now have contracts to provide aromatic herbal products to 10 resorts and spa parlours.”

Things that are aromatic give off pleasant smells.

“They can be used as fragrances in the home, for facial cleansing, hair care, and nourishing the skin.”

Fragrances are pleasant smells.

Facial mean to do with your face.

To nourish your skin means to give it things that keep it fresh and healthy.

Due to a large demand for materials, Nủ has enlisted local people to grow herbs and supply raw materials for him.

If there is a large demand for something, people want it quite badly and are willing to pay lots of money for it.

Enlisted means got people to help.

“Nủ represents the younger generation of Mông people, with a strong will and progressive attitude to improve their livelihoods.”

Progressive means forward thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A crop people returned to growing after not making enough money from oils.
  2. Vàng Thị Tòng’s relationship to Má A Nủ.
  3. The stage of school Má A Nủ was at when he lost his father.
  4. One of the herbs Má A Nủ uses to make essential oils.
  5. A place where wild trees grow.

 

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ANSWERS: 1. Rice; 2. Mother; 3. Secondary; 4. Mint; 5. Forest.

 

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