Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – Many households in HCM City’s outlying district of Củ Chi have started growing rau móp (pimply lasia) since it brings a good income.
Rau móp is an edible plant that grows wild in wet environments, and Trung An Commune which lies along the Sài Gòn River makes an ideal habitat for it.
In the past the main livelihood of people there used to be raising pigs and cows and growing cassava and fruits.
But a few years ago when rau móp was sold in local markets, traders came to buy and sell it to people in the inner city, and it began to gain viability as a crop.
Local households then started to grow it in their orchards. Some even switched from other crops to grow only rau móp.
Trần Ngọc Sinh of An Hòa hamlet has 2ha of land under rambutan and jackfruit. She grew rau móp in ditches in her orchard to supplement her income. But after one year of growing the plant it has in fact become her main source of income.
People do not have to water the plant or apply fertilisers since it needs very little care, she told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper.
She does not even have to go to the market to sell it since traders come and buy it, paying VNĐ20,000-25,000 (US$0.9-1.1) per kilogramme, she said.
She harvests 50-60kg of rau móp every four days and earns dozens of millions of đồng a month after paying pickers’ wages.
Next to An Hòa is Bốn Phú hamlet, which has the largest number of rau móp growers in the district.
Hồ Văn Hoàn once grew rice on his 6ha field, but since rice yields were not high due to pests and diseases he has given up the crop altogether and grows only rau móp since it is “easier.”
"I just need to clean the grass. Every four days pickers will come and harvest it and then traders will come and buy it," he said.
The plant grows on its own again after being picked, and so there is no need to replant it, he added.
He said locals now prefer to grow rau móp because it does not require much work and brings a steady income.
Though there is plenty of demand for rau móp in the district and great potential for large-scale production, it is little known to people in HCM City.
Households in Củ Chi still grow the plant on a small scale and do not work together to create a production network, according to Trần Trung Hiếu, an official at the district economic bureau.
Rau móp growers have little knowledge of how to take care of the plant, and most of the time they treat it as a wild plant, he said.
“Rau móp can grow well on its own but during the rainy season, when pests are active, growers do not know how to handle them. Some just spray pesticides and wait to harvest just as they do with other crops.
“That leads to a decrease in yields.”
He said the district administration is working on establishing a co-operative and nominating a person who can represent household growers to sign contracts with wholesale markets and other large consumers to ensure their output is sold.
“Our main goal is to build a brand for rau móp and take it to major supermarkets and restaurants in HCM City.”
The city Department of Science and Technology is working with the Củ Chi economic bureau and Trung An Commune administration to study rau móp growing.
The department plans to use technology to improve the plant’s yield and quality and market it.
Besides, it seeks to train growers in using technology to produce, process and sell the plant.
Then, it will bring together companies and growers to expand the market and attract investors to expand production. — VNS