HCM CITY (VNS) — Farmers in suburban districts like Binh Chanh, Thu Duc, Cu Chi and Hoc Mon are abandoning traditional crops to grow flowers and ornamental plants to earn a higher income.
Farmer Nguyen Van Lu of Cu Chi District's Tan Thong Hoi village, for example, started his orchid garden five years ago after losing money cultivating rice.
Lu said the land in his village was unfavourable for rice cultivation as it was often flooded in the rainy season.
He and his neighbours have for years tried to find appropriate crops that would bring them good income.
Lu took a free training course, and then grew orchids and earned VND1billion (US$ 47,390) a year on one hectare.
Dendrobium, Mokara and Vanda are popular orchids planted in HCM City.
Nguyen Van Trong in Go Vap District's Ward 12 grows hoa dong tien (gerbera) and earns VND500 million a year.
HCM City plans to expand cultivation areas for flower and ornamental trees to 2,130ha this year, up from last year's 2,090ha, of which 780ha will be for orchids and mai apricot plants that are popular during Tet (Lunar New Year), according to the city's Agriculture and Rural Development Department.
The soil and climate of the city are suitable for flowers and ornamental tree cultivation, officials from the department said.
In 2006, the city had only 1,115 ha of flowers and ornamental trees.
The city's Biotechnology Centre each year opens many classes to offer instruction in hi-tech cultivation and grafting methods to farmers to help them reduce investment costs and increase production.
The centre plans to import several new species of orchids from other countries this year.
The city in recent years has offered bank loans with preferential interest rates to farmers involved in flowers and ornamental tree cultivation.
Last year, 213 farmers received bank loans totalling more than VND300billion (US$14.2million). — VNS