|Green-fingered: A farmer in the central province of Binh Thuan tends to his trom tree. VNS Photos
Trom trees help cover bare land and hills in dry areas and are an important source of income for Vietnamese farmers. Nguyen Thanh reports.
Not much grows on the mountains of Tuy Phong District, where the average rainfall is the lowest in the country.
But trom trees, one of the rare plants to grow on rocky arid ground, have turned the barren land in the central province of Binh Thuan into a magnificent landscape of verdant mountains and hills.
These trees were planted in 2006, when the National Centre for Agriculture Extension assigned Tuy Phong District to plant 11ha of trees for the purpose of resin exploitation associated with afforestation.
Since then, the trees have flourished on the sunny, windswept land.
After several farmers in Vinh Hao Commune in Tuy Phong planted these trees, many visitors arrived in Tuy Phong to buy resin.
One of those pioneers was Trinh Toan. In 1995, his family planted 2ha with initial capital of VND20 million per ha.
Despite the rocky terrain and frequent neglect, the trees developed well.
By the fourth year, the family was able to start harvesting resin. Today, they have nearly 50ha, of which nearly 80 per cent has produced resin.
|Tree tapping: A farmer exploits trom tree resin
The process to extract resin is quite simple. Growers carve small square holes in the bark to release the resin, which emerges after eight days.
People mainly harvest resin in the dry season (from November to April). The average yield of mature trees (7 years old) is about 1kg per tree.
According to Tuy Phong District's Chamber of Agriculture and Rural Development, the district now has more than 400ha of resin trees, including 200ha that can be harvested. They grow mainly in Vinh Hao, Vinh Tan and Phong Phu communes.
A company in Tuy Phong has also started processing resin into a beverage.
The resin tree has now joined trees that grow thanh long (blue dragon fruit) and rubber as one of the most popular trees in the province.
Thanks to their profits from resin, many farmers in Tuy Phong now have a more stable source of income and rural workers have regular jobs. Growers earn VND40 to 60 million per ha per year.
The trees also allow locals to take advantage of previously abandoned land, where historically not much has grown. According to the National Centre for Agriculture Extension, Binh Thuan Province has a dry climate all year round. But the resin trees have opened new possibilities for the dry province.
|trom will be used to process a delicious beverage.
For this reason, they are gradually supplanting other cash crops. The local authorities are currently providing residents with young trees to expand their growing areas.
"These trees are likely to spearhead new economic development," says Ho Trung Phuoc, Tuy Phong District's Party secretary.
"Tuy Phong has established an economic model where groups of 20 members support each other to expand the growing area," he says.
Currently, the tree-growing movement lacks a cohesive organiser. But with proper care, the trees will enrich many people in this once-barren land and speed the economic development of Binh Thuan Province. — VNS
Trom trees (Sterculia foetida) have a high economic value and can grow well on hills and dry land. The tree can be found in tropical countries like India, Australia, Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Viet Nam.
At present, many farmers in Southern Viet Nam grow these trees in their gardens due to the plant's high economic value and the fact that it can grow on barren, hilly land.
The tree's timber can be used to make packaging, but its most valuable component is its resin, which can be used in beverages as well as medicine and glue.