|Võ Tiến Huy's agricultural cooperative now supplies more than 10 tonnes of green produce to the market on a daily basis. — Photo nld.com.vn|
LÂM ĐỒNG – Võ Tiến Huy started an agricultural cooperative that now supplies produce to supermarket chains all over the country, bringing in billions of đồng in profit each year and providing hundreds of job opportunities for locals.
The cooperative is based in Đức Trọng District, Lâm Đồng Province.
While Lâm Đồng Province has its fair share of organic farms, Huy is one of very few farmers that were recognised as one of the “Outstanding Vietnamese Farmers in 2021”.
At the age of 52, he has been through all the ups and downs of entrepreneurship in organic farming.
After graduating from Đà Lạt Vocational Training College, he initially found a job repairing electronic devices, but then found his calling in farming.
“Back in 2006, one of my friends was doing well in exporting agricultural produce to Singapore and Malaysia, and so he invited me to work with him,” Huy said.
Thinking the business had potential, he decided to switch to farming and invested VNĐ1.5 billion (US$65,302) that he took from a mortgage.
“It was going well at the beginning. But around a year later, we got scammed by our partners abroad and suffered a loss of VNĐ15 billion (US$653,000)," Huy recalled, "We went broke.”
The pressure from the failure and interest payments became too much to bear that at some points, he thought he could never recover.
However, realising that he still had a chance with business partners in the country, Huy made the decision to start again from scratch.
He then focused on making deals to implement a pilot model growing bell peppers on old coffee plantations.
Huy acted as the supplier of high-quality bell peppers for farmers and traders. His partners then were responsible for guiding the farmers to start production following the GAP standards.
“70 per cent of the products in the first four months met the required standards,” said Huy, “this rate increased to 80-85 per cent in the next four months."
“When the next bell pepper season came, all the stakeholders had already signed an official contract for long-term production and consumption with stable prices, ensuring profit for farmers.”
Having secured long-term contracts with partners in HCM City, Huy expanded the range of products. Many farmers also asked to join the business, creating a specialised farming collective.
However, believing that small-scale production would not make for a credible legal status, Huy then prepared and registered to establish Tiến Huy Agricultural Cooperative, with him as the director.
Focusing on clean agricultural production with the brand name Rau Đà Lạt (Đà Lạt Vegetables), the cooperative now consists of 11 members, with a network of 40 households over an area of 45 hectares in total.
Each of these families is given a detailed production plan to ensure a stable supply of produce.
"Our partnerships follow a support model in which the cooperative's staff directly instruct the farmers to follow the VietGAP standards (Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices)."
"All of the farming processes undergo strict supervision and inspection, to ensure clean and safe products for consumers," Huy said.
The harvested produce will be purchased according to the predetermined agreement on the market's prices.
A 30 per cent decrease in the market's prices equals a 10 per cent drop in the purchase price for farmers.
Vice versa, they will also earn more if the market prices increase over 30 per cent.
This mechanism makes sure that farmers joining the network always benefit more than in individual production, and helps guarantee their interest and maintains stable prices.
According to Huy, the cooperative now provides more than 10 tonnes of green produce to various supermarket chains on a daily basis.
In 2020 alone, they contributed over 4,000 tonnes of vegetables to the market; gaining over VNĐ6 billion in profit.
The business also created job opportunities for approximately 100 people, each receiving a salary of VNĐ6 to 7 million per month.
Huy's production was named Vietnam Trust Food 2014, and he himself is recognised as an Outstanding Vietnamese Farmer in 2021. — VNS