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The strawberry whisperer with a BA in economics

Update: January, 18/2018 - 09:50
Vũ Văn Lực says growing strawberries is more economically efficient than some other plants in Mộc Châu.—Photo danviet.vn
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – After graduation from Hà Nội’s National Economic University, all the friends of Bachelor of Economics Vũ Văn Lực sought jobs in the city. But Lực decided to return to his homeland in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La to realise his dream of cultivating strawberries.

From the trial plot growing on 1,000sq.m in Mộc Châu District, the young man now owns 4ha of strawberries and makes an average profit of VNĐ500 million (US$21,700) per year.

Lựa was born and raised in Áng Village, Đông Sang Commune of Mộc Châu District.  Since childhood, he dreamed of growing up to become an agronomist.

However, after graduating from high school in 2009, Lực enrolled and went on to study at the National Economic University, following his parents’ advices.

During college, he stumbled onto an article on the Internet about method of strawberry cultivation that was highly economically efficient, Lực told danviet.vn online newspaper.  

His passion for agriculture suddenly returned.

In the city, he decided to plant a trial strawberry garden on a 10sq.m plot.

 “Every day, after class, besides reviewing my homework, I spent all my free time caring for my small strawberry garden,” he said.

Over time, he learned how to grow the plants most effectively and came to enjoy the process.

“Looking at the strawberry plants growing well, I felt very excited and intended to develop the farming model when I returned to the countryside," he recalled.

In 2013, he graduated from the University with a good degree. Rather than applying for a job in State agencies or enterprises in the city like his classmates, Lực determined to pursue the dream of making a life for himself by growing strawberries.

Thinking that “To succeed, you must gain practical experiences”, he went directly to the Central Highlands city of Đà Lạt to learn techniques from the experienced strawberry growers. He didn’t hesitate to work for a large strawberry garden’s owner in Đà Lạt. After two years, Lực had accumulated much experience in planting strawberries and decided to return to his homeland of Mộc Châu to set up his farming model.

He remembered that when he decided to grow strawberries in his hometown, his parents didn’t object but didn’t show much cheerfulness. Many neighbours commented that so far no one had brought a “strange tree" like the strawberry to plant in Mộc Châu. But he kept the words out of his ears, determined to turn his dream into reality.

VNĐ500 million profit from 4ha of strawberry

In 2015, with the money he saved while working as hired labour in Đà Lạt, he borrowed more money from family, relatives and friends and then invested in renting land and buying seeds for his trial planting on a 1,000 sq.m area.

Thanks to the proper planting and care, his strawberry orchard has grown well.

After three months, he collected the first sweet fruit. His first harvest netted a profit of nearly VNĐ30 million.

This first victory helped him gain more confidence and boldly invest in expanding the strawberry growing area.

He now grows on all four hectares of his strawberry garden at Mộc Châu. The result has surprised and impressed not only his relatives but also people all over town.

According to Lực, the strawberry is temperate plant, suitable for Mộc Châu’s cool weather all year round.

“Easy to plant and easy to care for, but its economic efficiency is many times higher than that of maize, cassava,” he revealed about strawberry.

“Strawberry cultivation is not technically demanding, but it must be hard for farmers to earn high benefit.”

He said the most decisive step in the development of strawberries was the selection of seed. Seedlings should be healthy plants so that they can resist diseases during the process of growing up. Land preparation must ensure porosity, clean soil and the right dosage of fertilizer at each stage of plant’s development. Among his total 4ha is a 4,000sq.m greenhouse.

In order to save labour, he has invested in a small irrigation system based on Israeli technology. He adjusts the water-volume depending on the weather; for example, he waters two to three times each sunny day.

He developed his strawberry growing model based on the principles of clean agriculture, eschewing pesticides.

With their characteristic red and fragrant berries, Fragaria and Chipi strawberries are preferred by many customers. Traders from Sơn La and Hà Nội poured into his garden to purchase fruit.

In 2017, he earned VNĐ1 billion revenue from his strawberry plot. After expenses such as seeds, fertilizer and harvest, he earned a VNĐ500 million profit.

He also created regular jobs for more than 20 local labourers with an average income of VNĐ4.5 million per person per month. This motivates  the young man to continue to work on the strawberry garden. — VNS

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