|Nguyễn Thị Vinh is taking care of her gerbera crops. The plant is called "Money Flower" in Việt Nam. — Photo VNA/VNS Hồng Vân|
Anh Đức, Minh Phương, Hồng Vân
HÀ NỘI — Although Tết may be a little quieter due to COVID-19, the flower business is blooming.
In Tây Tựu village, Bắc Từ Liêm District, on the outskirts of Hà Nội acres of flowers are waiting to bloom just in time for Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, and many farmers are counting on them for a prosperous start to the new year.
Situated 15km from the city centre, Tây Tựu is one of Hà Nội's famous flower-growing villages, along with Nhật Tân. The history of the flower business here dates back to the 1930s, but it was not until the 1990s that the villagers saw the profitability of the flowers.
According to the local authority, at the height of the business, flowers can generate revenue up to VNĐ600 million (US$26,414) per hectares annually for the farmers. Flower-growing also created more than 500 jobs each year.
But then came the pandemic.
In August 2021, images of Tây Tựu farmers disposing of their withered crops broke the hearts of flower lovers nationwide. Due to the strict social distancing regulations amid the fourth wave in Hà Nội, farmers could not sell their products and had to watch their flowers die in vain.
But by the beginning of 2022, as the Tết holiday approaches, the prospects look brighter for the hard-working people of Tây Tựu, a stark contrast to last year.
"Earlier in the pandemic, we could not sell anything", said Chu Viết Sơn, an army veteran turned farmer.
"Ever since the policies changed, our business can resume and my wife and I have been busy harvesting flowers and sending them to other provinces like Hải Phòng and Hải Dương."
Despite his descendants having turned to modern careers like IT and pharmacy to make a living, the septuagenarian still clings on to his 2,160 sq.m growing various kinds of flowers with loce and care, as a way to live a happy life.
Sơn believes that growing flowers is more profitable than rice.
He said: "For every sào (360sq.m) we can harvest 200kg of rice, and that's about it. With flowers, we can harvest more, and profit more."
And it's not just the elders that bought into the flower hype.
Nguyễn Viết Thanh, a 41-year-old farmer, is also working hard to keep his family's tradition alive.
His daisies are even exported to China.
"The price is higher last year because people grow fewer flowers in fear of the pandemic," said Thanh.
"This year as businesses start to catch up with demand, if we can sell VNĐ3,000 ($0,13) per chrysanthemum flower, we can make a good profit."
Thanh is confident about the profitability of his daisies this season.
He added: "I think the weather is on our side this season. If it keeps being like this until Tết, it is favourable for our flowers."
But not all flower species get the demand as daisies.
Another farmer, Nguyễn Thị Vinh, said that her children refrain from growing the all-time favourite lilies this season, as they fear the pandemic might hamper sales of the already hard-to-grow flower.
"Not many people are going to grow lilies this year, so I think the price will rise sharply," said Vinh.
Vinh chose to grow gerberas and said that she had to expand her plots from two sào to five sào to keep up with demand.
She said: "During the year, the price for my gerbera is lower, but as Tết nears, people tend to buy gerbera more. I just had a big order for gerberas ready to ship next Monday."
Gerbera is called "The Money Flower" in Việt Nam, and people believe that it will bring prosperity to the owner. Customers like Nguyễn Thu Hương travelled far for gerberas not just for that reason, but also because of the flower's longevity.
Hương said: "Last year I bought a lot of gerberas, and I still choose them this year to decorate for Tết."
Despite the pandemic making flower markets much less crowded than usual, Hương believes that flowers will still remain one of the hottest items this holiday season.
"It's Tết, who wouldn't want flowers in their house to brighten up the atmosphere?," she added. — VNS