A barefoot scientist dedicated life to developing Việt Nam’s agriculture

August 25, 2023 - 10:39
Working on the farm at a very young age, he understands how hard work the farmers are despite limited productivity. That’s when he embarked on learning to create machines to make agricultural work easier.

LÂM ĐỒNG — To reduce labour and enhance agricultural productivity, one farmer has devoted nearly two decades to tireless research and developing more than 50 types of automated agricultural machinery.

Nguyễn Hồng Chương, 48, was born in a farming family nestled in Gia Lộc District, the northern province of Hải Dương. In the 1980s, his family moved to Đơn Dương District, Lâm Đồng Province in the Central Highlands to seek a new beginning.

During his eighth-grade year, financial constraints pressed on his family, forcing him to discontinue his education and work to support his family’s livelihood.

Chương was really into inventing things when he was small, he even crafted toys to sell to children in his village.

Working on a farm at a very young age, he understood how farmers work hard despite limited productivity. That’s when he embarked on learning to create machines to make agricultural work easier.

Nguyễn Hồng Chương instructs workers to manufacture equipment for agricultural machines. — VNA/VNS Photo Chu Quốc Hùng

Innovative creations

In 2004, he successfully applied his first invention to production.

At that time, he leased an 8,000sq.m land plot for vegetable cultivation. As his family was too poor to hire labourers, he had to manage all the jobs on his own.

His invention, a highly efficient pesticide sprayer, can replace four to six labourers in the production process, which has helped him reduce a lot of work.

This sprayer can cover 8,000 to 10,000sq.m of crops per hour and even reduces direct contact with toxic chemicals for the workers.

After his first success, three years later, Chương saved up over VNĐ7 million (US$293.87) to buy iron and steel to develop a vacuum seed-sowing machine.

This machine proved immensely beneficial for high-tech nursery gardeners. The farmers no longer sow seeds into planters or trays manually, reducing the workload for farmers.

With his passion and confidence from initial successes, Chương borrowed funds from his friends to establish his own Centre of Research and Applied Agricultural Machineries in 2008.

He continued inventing various creations including a vacuum seed-sowing machine, an automatic soil compactor, a water extractor for vegetables, a high-efficiency pesticide sprayer and a mud grinding machine.

The collection is now up to 50 agricultural machines.

His inventions gained popularity and received orders from Malaysian enterprises.

In 2012, his centre signed contracts for agricultural machinery production with partners in many other East Asian countries.

A new model of automated vacuum seed-sowing machine with a larger capacity and a 6-in-1 automatic system was invented after two weeks in 2017.

The machine was then exported to many countries including Laos, Cambodia, Hong Kong (China) and Malaysia.

It has high precision with no seed spillage and an average sowing rate of nearly 27,000 seeds per hour. Each machine has the productivity of 18 to 20 labourers, consuming only 0.5kW/h of electricity.

Currently, his centre is learning to update the 6-in-1 automated vacuum seed-sowing machine that can replace 30 to 32 labourers. The machine will be constructed from stainless steel which can ensure durability and aesthetic appeal.

The updated version of an automated vacuum seed-sowing machine that his centre is currently developing. — VNA/VNS Photo Chu Quốc Hùng

Well-deserved achievements

His mechanical workshop has been expanded to over 1,000sq.m with a total investment of VNĐ2.2 billion (US$92,359)

Chương has even constructed a greenhouse for cultivating vegetables, equipped with an automated temperature and humidity control system.

This high-tech vegetable cultivation system enables urban residents, especially those living in apartments, to produce vegetables at home.

Nguyễn Minh Thắng, a graduate of Cao Thắng Technical College in HCM City, has been working at Chương’s centre for more than 13 years.

Thắng said: “My curiosity about Chương, who left school in eighth grade, led me to start working here. My respect for him has grown over time as I’m impressed with every machine that he has invented. He even knows how to play many instruments such as piano or violin. He also designed a room for us to play music during our leisure time.”

Through his inventive creations, Chương has received commendations from the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Lâm Đồng Province’s People Committee.

In 2017, he was honoured with the Third-class Labour Medal for his outstanding achievements in applying scientific and technological knowledge to the production of advanced agricultural machinery.

He was also recognised during a ceremony honouring 53 agricultural scientists by the Central Vietnam Farmers’ Association.

Phạm S, deputy chairman of Lâm Đồng Province’s People Committee, said: “Living in challenging circumstances, the efforts and innovative spirit of Chương have truly deserved recognition. The province also wants to further expand Chương’s innovations to not only boost the local economy through high-tech agricultural machines but also extend the machines’ impact to international markets.” — VNS