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Village farmers embrace new cash crop

Update: December, 14/2014 - 22:42
Cropping up: Acouple cares for their three-month old taro garden. The taro can be harvested in six months or even earlier if it is grown on fertile soil and receives good care. — VNS Photos Huynh Van My

Growing taro, more lucrative than rice and potatoes, has improved the lives of farmers in this rural village. Huynh Van My reports.

As taro plants with their heart-shaped leaves quiver in the light breeze, not only do they lend that special beauty to the landscape, but also enrich the residents of the Tay Son Tay Village in the Duy Hai Commune.

Located in Duy Xuyen district in Viet Nam's central province of Quang Nam, the village residents carefully water the plants as the sun shines bright, fervently hoping that the harvest will result in a better future brought since taro fetches high earnings.

Source of income

Situated near the coast, Tay Son Tay Village has plots that are stretched long and wide and have sandy soil, sprawled far and wide. Nguyen Van Tho, the head of the village, recalled that the plots were previously only covered with rice, sweet potato and sesame plants, but these crops would bring the villagers little income.

"We lived a hard life because the money we got from selling rice and potatoes was insufficient for us to make ends meet," he revealed.

"Taro plants have become our main sources of income for the last five years. We are fortunate because selling taro has provided us with better income, making our lives better," the village head admitted.

Room to grow: Taro grown on sand must have a large space between each bush so that it can easily develop.

Of the 390 households in the village, half now grow taro plants. "The taro plants cover one-fifth of the total farming land. These crops bring our residents good earnings, so we should allocate more parcels of land to grow it," he said. "This will help reduce poverty in my village," he added.

"Some years ago, I got VND60 million (US$2,800) from selling taro. Last year, I only gained VND40 million ($1,900) because the storm had damaged the plants," Huynh Van Loc, 57, said as he watered his 2,500sq.m of land sporting taro plants.

"However, I am still very happy because now we earn higher income from selling taro compared with what we made peddling rice and sweet potatoes," he shared.

"Thanks to taro, many residents here have enough money to pay for their children's tuition fees, as well as for the construction of their new houses. Some residents even have three to four motorbikes," Loc revealed.

Sudden luck

While villagers have been growing taro plants in the area for many years, but they used to only plant five to ten bushes near their wells or garden walls for family use.

"In 1990, the price of sweet potato was very low. I became too depressed and decided to plant more bushes of taro, together with the sweet potatoes. I did not expect that taro will bring me good earnings," Phan Cong Sanh, 73, recalled.

"I could make good savings from selling taro, which inspired me to grow more taro bushes," Sanh said.

"More businessmen have come looking for the taro we grow because it is delicious and soft," Sanh shared.

 

Country roots: Each taro bush often creates a big tuber, added by smaller tubers. In the first harvest, the big tubers can weigh up to 1kg each.

Technical help

An increasing number of residents are growing the crop in the village, hoping that the shift to taro will enrich their lives and will guarantee a better future. However, village head Tho admitted that the taro plants are not always a success. "We apply our experience to cultivate the plants, but sometimes we are unable to prevent diseases, leading to poor growth of the plant," he said.

"We will be able to cultivate better crops if we receive technical assistance from a professional officer," Tho said.

"Science and technology are rapidly developing in our country. We also know that we can achieve a better harvest if we can apply modern technology in farming this crop," he said.

The village head's desire reflects the wishes of the residents.

Le Hoang Tam, chairman of Duy Hai communal farmers committee, used to grow taro plants. He has a clear understanding of the difficulties faced when growing the taro, as well as how important the crop is to the village's residents. "I planted taro but stopped because I did not have time to water it. It is not easy to cultivate taro here since the sun is harsh in this coastal village," Hai admitted.

Despite these obstacles, the residents here continue to patiently water their taro plants every day even under the brutal glare of the sun, their foreheads sweating, because they long for a better future. — VNS

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