by Phuong Mai
Self-taught farmer lauded for combine, other inventions
Despite mockery from neighbours and repeated failures, Nguyen Van Dung, a farmer from Tay Ninh Province, refused to give up. His aim was to make a better combine harvester and chemical-spraying machine to lighten the load of his fellow farmers.
Just last week, the Prime Minister awarded the 49-year-old, who has a third-grade education, the Labour Medal, Third-Class, for his mechanical innovations.
His persistence had paid off.
"I love making machines that can help farmers feel more comfortable when they're working," Dung said.
Dung began learning how to make machines in 2005. He bought diesel engines, iron and steel and began experimenting. It took six years to put the finishing touches on the combine harvester, which can harvest 3.5-4 hectares of rice per day.
"I spent VND150 million (US$7,000) on it. It was a big sum of money at the time," he said, adding that his wife's encouragement had helped him overcome repeated setbacks.
In 2011, his combine harvester won second place at the Tay Ninh Province's Scientific and Technology Creation Awards. Soon afterwards, he sold two machines for VND190 million each, cheaper than imported combine harvesters.
Two years later, he created a chemical-spraying machine with a capacity of 100-200 litres. That won another prize at the province's technology creation awards.
Several Cambodians have ordered 20 of the spraying machines, which sell for VND25 million ($1,160) each.
In recent months, Dung has been working on a groundnut-picking machine and a hole digger for planting cassava. He intends to sell them for VND10 million ($470) each.
"I'll continue making machines and sell them at a reasonable price for farmers," Dung said. "It will help increase their productivity."
Boy breaks both arms imitating TV show antics
An 11-year-old boy broke both arms last week after imitating an act on a sports entertainment TV show that depicts risky behavior.
Tran Quang Nhat from Dong Nai Province was hospitalised at the Dong Nai Pediatric Hospital last Monday) after watching Sasuke Viet Nam, a Vietnamese version of Japan's Sasuke in which 100 competitors attempt to complete a four-stage obstacle course.
One of the competitors on the show had poured water on two parallel walls on which he was climbing. Nhat did the same thing with water, falling from a height of two metres and breaking both arms.
Nhat, whose arms are in a plaster cast, has returned home.
Pham Dong Doai, head of the hospital's trauma, orthopedic and burn department, said it was the first time they had treated a boy who had broken both arms while playing.
Doai said it was a warning to parents to be more careful about their children's TV watching.
Sasuke Viet Nam is one of several TV programmes, including Nguoi Bi Aån (Secret Person), that show daredevil performances, such as driving a motorcycle over a person's body.
Although the show's hosts warn viewers not to try the acts at home, children are often not aware of the risks.
Do Thi Thanh Thao of Bien Hoa City, who has a 12-year-old son, said: "When I watch a programme on foreign channels, I always see some kind of warning or notice before the show. I hope in the near future that local TV stations do the same to remind parents to explain to their children what they should or should not do." — VNS