Young man ushers Bình Phước into digital agriculture era

April 11, 2024 - 09:39
He rose to prominence through groundbreaking innovations in agricultural technology, leading the charge in ushering Bình Phước Province into the era of digital agriculture.

Minh Hằng

Đặng Dương Minh Hoàng (second left) talks with provincial officials about his farm's digital transformation model. — Photos courtesy of Đặng Dương Minh Hoàng

"If you want to go far, go together."

This philosophy has propelled Đặng Dương Minh Hoàng to extraordinary heights, earning him the esteemed title of one of Việt Nam's 10 outstanding youth faces in 2023 an accolade bestowed annually by the Central Committee of the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union.

This award honours dedication, achievements and inspires academic excellence, skill development and creativity among Việt Nam's youth.

As people learn about Hoàng's remarkable achievements, they are awestruck and deeply admire him for the multitude of accolades he has garnered, both at home and on the global stage.

The 36-year-old man is the director of Thiên Nông Farm in Cây Da Hamlet of Phú Văn Commune, Bù Gia Mập District of Bình Phước Province.

He rose to prominence through groundbreaking innovations in agricultural technology, leading the charge in ushering Bình Phước Province into the era of digital agriculture.

Thiên Nông Farm sprawls across 50 hectares, cultivating a harmonious trio of avocado, black pepper and rubber trees.

"Rubber trees serve as a natural shield, enveloping avocado and black pepper in a protective embrace, with 12 hectares dedicated exclusively to the cultivation of avocado," Hoàng said.

"The strategic fusion of avocado, pepper and rubber cultivation ensures a year-round collaboration between me and fellow farmers. As one harvest season concludes, another begins seamlessly, crafting a sustainable rhythm that guarantees stable livelihoods for all involved."

Determination to innovate

His childhood was closely tied to the fields and gardens, giving him a deep understanding of the hardships faced by farmers.

"As a young child, I was often taken by my father to harvest cashew nuts alongside hired workers on my family's farm. Despite the backbreaking effort they put in, the earnings were modest."

This experience prompted Hoàng to reflect deeply and set the course for his future endeavours.

After graduating from the HCM City University of Technology with a degree in electrical-mechanical engineering, Hoàng secured a scholarship to study abroad in France in 2008, just two years into his studies at the university.

During his five years in France, he immersed himself in the world's most advanced automation technologies. Subsequently, he moved to Malaysia to work in the oil and gas industry.

However, by 2016, this young man made the decision to return home. Hoàng took on a managerial role in an automation system company joint venture within the oil and gas sector.

A family tragedy struck when his father fell seriously ill and passed away, compelling him to carry on his father's dream to develop the Mã Dưỡng avocado variety.

Mã Dưỡng avocado is now the most trusted and widely cultivated variety of avocado among farmers in Bình Phước Province.

Hoàng said: "Previously, my family and most residents of Bình Phước grew and developed black pepper and cashew trees. However, when the Mã Dưỡng avocado variety was introduced, I tried planting it and found that this creamy avocado variety is highly suitable for the local climate and soil conditions. From then on, I heavily invested in and developed this avocado variety."

Like many other entrepreneurial youths, Hoàng encountered numerous initial difficulties due to his young age and lack of experience, especially when it came to persuading other farmers to adopt his agricultural model. Despite his knowledge, he found it challenging to convince fellow farmers to follow his farming methods.

"It takes time to prove oneself and to gain the trust of other farmers, especially when you're young and inexperienced."

Hoàng's dedication has truly paid off, with his extraordinary achievements not only recognised by those around him but also transforming his family's fortunes through the fortuitous introduction of the Mã Dưỡng Avocado variety.

This success has ignited a wave of inspiration, propelling both Hoàng and his local community towards an innovative economic model centred around avocado cultivation, leading to the expansion of their avocado products into diverse domestic and international markets.

A drone is used for crop spraying at Thiên Nông Farm.

In 2021, Thiên Nông Farm reaped impressive profits from avocados and pepper, amounting to VNĐ8 billion (US$320,000), constituting a remarkable 73 per cent of its total revenue. The farm's revenue surpassed VNĐ10 billion (over $400,000) in 2023.

The expansion has brought tangible benefits to 35 farmers working alongside him at the farm, most of whom hail from the S'tiêng and Khmer ethnic communities. They secured employment through the farm's innovative livestock investment programme, which has catalysed the evolution of a self-reliant production system.

Hoàng supports local farmers by co-investing 50 per cent of the funding needed to establish livestock pens for raising cattle and goats. The farmers contribute the remaining 50 per cent.

This collaborative effort not only empowers individuals to generate additional income through livestock farming, but also ensures Hoàng a sustainable source of organic fertiliser for his farm, fostering a circular economic model.


Since 2022, Thiên Nông farm has implemented a digital production diary to enhance production processes, optimise resource utilisation, commit to clean and green products, protect consumers, minimise environmental pollution, and contribute to sustainable agriculture.

He said that in the past, his family mainly cultivated rubber and black pepper in a traditional manner, resulting in unstable income.

"In Việt Nam, farmers traditionally sell their produce to traders, who then export it or sell it to supermarkets. Ultimately, farmers' products, regardless of quality, often lack brand recognition among consumers."

During his time in France, Hoàng was surprised to see large fields tended by only one or two people. This efficiency was achieved through automation and technology adoption in agriculture.

"In France, farmers handle everything from planting, raising livestock, processing, to direct advertising and sales. They build effective brands for export, auctioning and elevating their products. There are many successful models that can be applied in Việt Nam," he said.

Talking about his 12-hectare avocado orchard, he said only two people manage it due to advanced technology applications like automated irrigation systems, roof-mounted solar panels for energy, full orchard monitoring via cameras and drone usage. He mainly hires workers for valve adjustments and maintenance.

Hoàng has also introduced innovative applications on the farm, including labels, QR codes and websites that transparently showcase the meticulous planting, care and harvesting processes.

In addition to these advancements, he champions sustainable practices by producing organic fertiliser from cow and goat manure on-site, harnessing fish protein sourced from reservoirs in local hydroelectric dams, and concocting natural insect repellents using garlic, chili and microbes.

Applying the most advanced technology in labour and production, the Bơ Ông Hoàng (Mr Hoàng's avocado) and organic pepper products have achieved VietGAP standards and are available on shelves in supermarkets in HCM City, Hà Nội, and other locations.

The black pepper products are produced organically and have entered into a sales contract with Nedspice - the leading spice group in Netherlands.

Each avocado tree is assigned a QR code.

Hoàng said he faced challenges in developing the Bơ Ông Hoàng brand initially, as few people knew about his product and it was difficult to access funding for developing a high-tech farm.

But Hoàng considers himself fortunate to have encountered mentors and connections to favourable funding sources.

"I invested gradually, expanding by one hectare each year. Currently, Bơ Ông Hoàng avocados are not only consumed domestically but also exported to Southeast Asian markets such as Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and targeting the Chinese market."

Harnessing power of youth

In addition to managing his farm, Hoàng serves as a Central Committee Member of the Việt Nam Farmers' Union for the 2023-28 term, Chairman of the national Lương Định Của Network, and Director of the Digital Agricultural Services Cooperative in Bình Phước.

Currently, the Bình Phước Digital Agricultural Services Cooperative represents the deployment of the AutoAgri digital platform for agricultural management, monitoring, traceability and digitisation.

The cooperative has digitised all its members and piloted digitisation for over 1,400 cashew processing facilities in Bình Phước.

In 2023, the cooperative signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperated with other organisations to support digital transformation for farmers and businesses, enhancing the agricultural value chain.

The cooperative's products such as avocados, durians and cashews have obtained 4-star OCOP certification and are recognised as high-quality agricultural products representing Bình Phước Province.

Hoàng actively participates in various agriculture forums both domestically and internationally, as well as engages in activities to share digital technology experiences with students and communities, and connects with overseas networks to gradually build a consumer base. This includes investing in developing unique Vietnamese specialty chains through establishing agricultural production models and Vietnamese culinary businesses abroad, aiming to put Việt Nam on the global agricultural map.

Through these activities, he has been able to share experiences with local members, farmers, and young start-ups about farming, learning from failures and drawing lessons from losses to facilitate more successful startups.

"Young people who want to engage in agriculture and entrepreneurship in this field need a community and should become associations to have more suitable mechanisms and policies. As I've said 'If you want to go far, go together'."

"Youth need aspirations and goals. I hope to build a young force in Việt Nam that reaches out to the world to innovate and bring Vietnamese agricultural products to the international market. Việt Nam has many rich specialties that need strong development." — VNS