Young man forms successful fungus start-up

October 28, 2022 - 08:36
The former official of Trà An Ward, Bình Thủy District, established the company in 2018 where he cultivates cordyceps militaris fungi, a valuable medicinal herb. 


Ngô Xuân Điền, director of Fungi Herbal Medicine Joint Stock Company in Cần Thơ province, introduces the production process of fungi to a visitor. — VNA/VNS Photo Ánh Tuyết 

CẦN THƠ — Watching fungi grow every day, Ngô Xuân Điền, director of Fungi Herbal Medicine Joint Stock Company in Cần Thơ province, is very happy that his efforts have brought success.

The former official of Trà An Ward, Bình Thủy District, established the company in 2018 where he cultivates cordyceps militaris fungi, a valuable medicinal herb. 

His product has met the four-star standards of One Commune-One Product (OCOP) programmes.

Điền told Tin Tức (News) newspaper that he has always dreamed of developing the agricultural economy while working at the Party Committee's Inspection Committee of Trà An Ward in 2015. 

The agricultural land in his hometown is a little. Starting a business in this field required him to develop high-tech agriculture instead of traditional techniques that require a lot of land.

Business is complex 

The 34-year-old man failed in the early days as a start-up in planting abalone mushrooms and raising chickens, pigeons and crickets.

He realised this model was unsuitable for urban agriculture because it required a large land area and noise and waste control regulations. 

Điền decided to change direction, looking for a more suitable start-up model. 

In 2016, he started growing cordyceps militaris because he found the potential of the medicinal herb in the market. 

Very few people were developing this fungus in the Mekong Delta at that time. 

"My initial capital was only VNĐ50 million (over US$2,000), with a nine square metres room, an air conditioner and one steamer," said Điền. 

He worked all day and night, doing all the cultivation steps and sending samples for quality control.

One year later, his product was recognised with all criteria for medicinal content. 

He didn't sleep many nights during the fungi-growing process. 

There are thousands of reasons for the failure of fungi, such as embryo quality, diseases, and temperature miscalculations. 

At that time, he faced many difficulties, from buying machinery, installing a cultivation room, and using raw materials. Everything was still quite new. Only a few raw material suppliers and people knew how to install the system for cultivation. 

Moreover, he said that raw materials and farming techniques were mainly from foreign countries, which were difficult to access.

It also took a lot of work to sell products.

Customers needed to learn more about the cordyceps and the product use while the price was quite high. 

"At that time, my products were mainly given as gifts and sent to retailers for free."

By the beginning of 2018, more people began to consume his products thanks to positive feedback.  

Realising the opportunity to develop production, Điền called his friends to cooperate. 

In August 2018, Điền decided to establish the company, aiming to produce products from cordyceps and expand long-term production with Vietnamese herbs.

After more than four years of operation, the company now has a workshop of ​​more than 500 square metres and a system of modern machinery, creating jobs for 12 people. 

Each year, Điền's workshop produces 50,000 bottles, equivalent to 150kg of dried cordyceps.

The cultivation brought revenue of VNĐ1 billion in 2021. 

Điền said Việt Nam's herbal market has a lot of potential when the world's healthcare trend is increasing with natural herbs. Meanwhile, Việt Nam has raw materials and rare herbal varieties such as Ngọc Linh ginseng and green reishi mushroom. 

In 2023, the company will diversify products, build brands, expand production of famous Vietnamese herbals and bring products to the international market such as China and India. 

"We expect to gain revenue of VNĐ3.5 billion this year and create jobs for 20 workers with an income of over VNĐ7 million per month." 

The company will also focus on digital transformation and develop products to meet ISO standards. At the same time, the company will promote its online sales system and e-commerce channels. 

Võ Thị Thanh Thanh, one of the employees who has been with the company since the first days of establishment, said she has worked with Điền since she was a student.

"Điền always tries to develop production and improve salary for workers. Most people have been working here long and are always dedicated to their work."

As a member of the Innovation Club of Cần Thơ City, Điền regularly exchanges and shares his business experiences with members who want to start a business, according to Trần Việt Tuấn, deputy head of Cần Thơ City Youth Union.

Điền won the Lương Ðịnh Của Award in 2022, an annual award sponsored by the HCM Central Youth Union and given to young people with outstanding achievements in manufacturing, trading, applying modern science, protecting the environment and setting up new rural lifestyles. VNS