|Ochna flowers bloom at Phan Van Sau's farm in Thanh Liem village in Binh Dinh Province. He expects to earn about VND1 billion ($47,000) for selling ornamental ochna trees this season. — VNS Photo Phuoc Buu
by Phuoc Buu
BINH DINH (VNS)— Villages cultivating ornamental ochna trees in central Binh Dinh Province are enjoying a bumper crop, indicating a robust recovery after the heavy floods of November last year.
"I have about 6,000 trees in my farm; it is a bumper crop," said farmer Phan Van Sau in the apricot tree-growing village of Thanh Liem.
Sau plans to sell 2,000 trees this Tet (Lunar New Year) and expects to receive about VND 1 billion (US$47,000) in return.
He has sold hundreds of trees to several localities around the country, including HCM City and the Mekong (Cuu Long) Delta provinces in the south; central Hue, Da Nang and Central Highlands provinces; and Ha Noi, Nam Dinh and Hai Duong provinces in the north.
A common Tet tradition for the Vietnamese is to use different types of flowers to decorate their homes to welcome the Lunar New Year. The yellow ochna blossom is a traditional favourite for most people in the country's central and southern regions.
Recently, the residents in the north have also been opting for the yellow ochna blossom, instead of the traditional peach blossom.
Nhon An Commune in Binh Dinh Province has been the country's largest supplier of ochna trees for the past 10 years.
Up to 90 per cent of the locals depend on ochna tree cultivation for their livelihood. Five out of the commune's six villages — Thanh Liem, Hao Duc, Thuan Thai, Trung Dinh and Tan Duong — are large ochna tree cultivators.
Without doubt, ochna tree cultivation has eradicated poverty and developed the local economy. Commercial cultivation of the ochna trees began 20 years ago, and it has changed the lives of rural farmers. Local residents are getting wealthier thanks to the yellow ochna blossom, with each farmer averaging an annual income of VND200 million.
The ochna tree cultivation also creates seasonal jobs for hundreds of workers during the two months before the Tet celebrations.
In 1990, the late Dang Xuan Lan, also a farmer, introduced the idea of cultivating ochna trees. The idea was embraced easily and ochna tree cultivation has developed strongly since then. Local farmers now plant about different varieties of ochna trees.
According to Do Van Khoa from Hao Duc village, the soil and climate in the commune are highly suited for growing ochna trees, resulting in increasing productivity every year.
In addition to growing yellow ochna blossom trees for Tet, local farmers are also cultivating bonsai ochna trees, which earn higher profits of up to VND100 million ($4,700).
The locals are also trying to cultivate rare and precious ochna tree varieties in a bid to diversify their incomes.
The Centre for Technology Application and Transfer of the province is working closely with local growers of ochna trees for introducing new varieties of seedlings, as well as techniques for growing more flowers on each tree.
Last November, heavy floods swept through the province and threatened several ochna-growing villages with large losses. "Almost all the trees were affected by the flood waters. However, the floods soon receded in the commune," added Sau.
After the floods, the farmers attempted to dry the soil and save the trees several times, using insights and techniques learnt over 20 years of cultivation.
Those efforts helped to save the trees, and the commune is currently bustling with trucks arriving every day to load and transport the trees to different locations across the country.
An official from the economic department of An Nhon District said the profit from the sales of ochna trees this year is expected to surpass last year's figure of VND20 billion (almost $1 million). — VNS