|Growing safe vegetables in a net house for Chúc Sơn Co-operative in Hà Nội's Chương Mỹ District. — Photo courtesy of Hanoi Agriculture Extension Centre
HÀ NỘI — Farmers in Chúc Sơn Township of Hà Nội’s Chương Mỹ District have been getting rich thanks to hi-tech farming.
Chúc Sơn Clean Vegetable Cooperative was established by a group of farmers with enthusiasm for and experience in growing clean vegetables in Giáp Ngọ Village.
The cooperative, which was formed in May 2016, gathered households with an interest in developing an area specialising in safe vegetable farming and meeting VietGAP standards.
The cooperative started with a few members and a total cultivation area of 5 hectares.
After 5 years of operation, 36 farming households joined, following three models of agricultural production: hi-tech agriculture, net house farming and open-air farming.
The cooperative has a total 17.8 hectares of cultivation land, of which the net house area is more than 2 hectares, a total of 12.8 hectares has received VietGAP certification, and 5 hectares has received GlobalGAP certification.
Along with growing safe vegetables and fruit, the cooperative has also focused on market information, technology transfer and product consumption linkage.
According to Hoàng Văn Khảm, the cooperative director, Chúc Sơn Clean Vegetable and Fruit Cooperative was the first one in Chương Mỹ District to apply Japanese farming technology.
After two years being instructed by Japanese experts, the farmers successfully planted dozens of kinds of vegetables such as mizuna, turnip, Japanese spinach, cabbage, collard greens and bok choy in the winter season of 2017, said Khảm.
“The process of growing vegetables was strictly applied according to the Japanese production process,” said Khảm.
“Fertilisers used in vegetable production are mainly manure that has undergone the composting process to ensure complete decay, and some inorganic fertilisers of clear origin.”
Aside from producing in Chương Mỹ District, the cooperative also opened a branch in Mộc Châu District in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La. The cooperative signed contracts with the farmers in Mộc Châu to grow clean vegetables to supply off-season vegetables from May to October.
Chúc Sơn Cooperative is also the first agricultural production facility in the district to use remote sensing technology and weather monitoring systems in safe vegetable production sponsored by the Institute of Technology Development and Education and the World Bank.
Khảm said: “The components of a remote sensing technology for agricultural production include wind speed measurement equipment, temperature and humidity sensors and cameras mounted on a high pole, covering the field of Chúc Sơn Cooperative.”
“Raw data is recorded in the receiving station here and then sent to satellites for processing in the Netherlands along with the signals at many receivers in other countries, and then sent back to the station and reported on the mobile phones of the cooperative’s leaders.”
A complete system includes current weather information, storing weather data for a full day, month or whole year, weather forecasting, warnings on diseases in vegetables, and soil moisture level readings.
Surveillance cameras monitor farmers to comply with VietGAP procedures and electronic field diary software helps to trace the origin of products with QR codes.
Based on the data, the staff adjust the irrigation, planting and technical process.
“This is different from the traditional farming style that used to rely on farmers’ experience only,” said Khảm.
The task of staff is to develop production plans and purchase the products for its members. Members are responsible for following the production plans.
Thanks to a methodical production plan, even when vegetables in the market were so cheap due to "dumping", the cooperative still bought for farmers at committed prices.
Thanks to the hi-tech method, the cooperative’s average yield is about 60 tonnes per month, mainly for supply to large supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and hospitals in Hà Nội.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, online sales have been effective in avoiding disruption of the product consumption market, and adapting to social distancing in Hà Nội.
The cooperative has been evaluated as typical of the One Commune One Product (OCOP) model in Hà Nội’s agricultural sector.
Currently, the cooperative has six products that have been granted 3-star OCOP product certification: green onions, water spinach, collard greens, spinach, tomatoes and coriander.
This year, the cooperative has set a goal to improve productivity, ensuring the supply of 5 tonnes of vegetables per day to the market, and making the Chúc Sơn clean vegetable brand a high quality product bringing health to the community.
“Growing vegetables could definitely make rich,” said Khảm. — VNS