Lê Anh Tuấn, 29, owns a company specialising in growing organic vetagetables, with a turnover of VNĐ4.3 billion (US$189,000) per year and VNĐ1.6 billion ($70,500) in profit. — Photo tienphong.vn
HÀ NỘI — With creativity, enthusiasm and a startup spirit, a group of southern youth has succeeded in their businesses.
Lê Anh Tuấn, 29, owns a company specialising in growing organic vetagetables, with a turnover of VNĐ4.3 billion (US$189,000) per year and VNĐ1.6 billion ($70,500) in profit.
Besides supplying safe food for local residents, his company creates jobs for 15 labourers with an average income of VNĐ5 million ($220) a month.
Tuấn is among 85 outstanding young people who were honoured on Sunday with the Lương Định Của award. Named after a brilliant Vietnamese agronomist of the early 20th century, the award is given annually to young people from rural areas who excel in production and business activities.
Being an animal husbandry engineer, he had once tried to breed pigs but it failed to generate profit.
The motivation for planting organic vetegetables came to Tuấn by chance.
"My grandma always worries about the usage of chemicals in vegetables bought at traditional markets in the city whenever she visit us," he said.
Tuấn started to grow organic sprouts for his family.
"Looking on as the crops grew well, I came up with the idea of growing organic vegetables," he told the Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
It didn’t require much capital given that the vegetables have a short growth cycle, resulting in consecutive harvests, he said.
Assuming that the supplier of safe vegetables would ease the community’s health concerns, Tuấn approached organic farms to get more experience.
With knowledge gained from them and by reading books, he hired some unused land in HCM City’s Hóc Môn District to start growing vegetables.
Vietnamese often say that "the first step is always the hardest", and it was true in Tuấn’s case.
The first two years were a disappointment as no one bought his vegetables. He even offered them to farmers as food for cows.
To generate clientele, Tuấn invited restaurant owners and wholesalers to visit his farm and set up a website to introduce the vegetables as well as the production process.
He also set up booths at agricultural fairs so that more and more people got to know about his products.
Now his farmland spans over 1,400 sq.m in Xuân Thời Sơn Commune in Hóc Môn District, a three-fold increase compared with 400 sq.m at the start.
The sprouts on his farm are tended with homemade biofertilisers. No pesticides, artificial fertisers and stimulants are used.
"Every day, the company supplies the market with over 300 kilos of sprouts of various kinds," Tuấn said, adding that the sprouts will soon be available at such supermarkets as Big C and Coop Mart.
In addition to expanding production and market share, he is trying to design automatic seed classification and other types of machinery to reduce manpower and meet customer demand.
Fishing for profit
Nguyễn Trung Hiếu,30, from Củ Chi District’s Trung Lập Hạ Commune is another recipient of the excellence award.
He admitted that raising lăng fish (Hemibagrus elongatus) has been an adventure with many ups and downs.
After graduating from HCM City University of Agriculture and Forestry, Hiếu applied to work as trainee on baby fish farms. With the experience he obtained, he leased a plot of land and a pond near his house to begin breeding young fish.
With an initial investment capital of only VNĐ60 million (US$2,600), Hiếu started generating profits.
Seeing the potential, he poured more money into his venture. But inadequate knowledge in business and marketing led to failure.
He was desperate, especially given that he was indebted with billions of đồng invested in the farm.
"Even relatives advised me to get rid of the work because the debt was big for a young person like me," Hiếu said. "But with strong determination to engage in agricultural production, I believed I could succeed despite a lot of challenges," he said.
Hiếu’s efforts paid off and he found know-how to increase fish reproduction.
Instead of thousands of baby fish, he could now harvest over 2 million.
With the new model of farming, Hiếu reaped lucrative revenues. In the first five months of this year alone, he grossed a total of VND1.8 billion, bringing a monthly profit of between VNĐ50-60 million ($2,200-2,600).
He also helped created jobs for dozens of labourers with stable incomes of VNĐ5-6 million ($220-264) a month.
The new start-up businessman said he was planning to apply more high technology to further increase the yield of his breeding farm. — VNS