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The King of Avocado brings the green to the Central Highlands

Update: July, 30/2018 - 07:00
The nursery is where Mười experiments on his new avocado varieties. — Photo
Viet Nam News

ĐẮK LẮK — They call him the King of Avocado for his unrivalled knowledge of the tree, the exceptionally high quality avocado seeds he supplies and his passion for transferring his planting techniques to other farmers of the Central Highlands.

That’s how Việt Nam’s leading biologist Nguyễn Lân Dũng describes Trịnh Xuân Mười, the man who built a 12ha avocado farm from scratch.

“It may take a week to tell about my childhood,” Mười told Thanh niên (Young People) newspaper. He was born and raised in a family of 13 in Diễn Châu District in the central province of Nghệ An, one of the poorest localities in the country.

Poverty seemed to never stop haunting them. Mười dropped out when he was a sixth grader and in 1990, at age 16, he left the hometown, moving down South to find a livelihood.

Hopping on the Reunification express train without a penny to his name, Mười took with him only a bamboo flute. Hungry and broke, all he could do back then was play it for food and money.

When the train reached Chợ Đầm Station in the coastal city of Nha Trang, Mười was dislodged.

“I needed food but could not beg for food forever. Meanwhile, no one at Đầm Market nearby wanted to employ me as I was too thin and weak. A food seller there offered me food and advised me to seek a job in the Central Highlands, where I could pick coffee and peppercorn for living,” he said.

There started Mười’s journey to becoming the King of Avocado.

In Đắk Lắk Province, he did everything he could to survive and support his family, from rice harvesting to coffee picking.

The death of Mười’s father was an important turning point in his life, as he could not afford to return home.

Realising that being a hired labourer would never secure him a better life, Mười became determined to have his own farm.

Tightening his belt, Mười bought himself a bicycle, launching his business of trading avocado. While collecting avocados at farms, he carefully searched for the trees offering the greatest number of tasty fruits.

He tried to grow the seeds of those trees in his garden but the results did not meet his expectations.

He sought out the Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (WASI) for support in avocado tree crossbreeding. But he received a refusal as “there is no study on this field,” according to the institute.

The challenge did not discourage Mười. He decided to do research on his own and asked for advice from Professor Nguyễn Lân Dũng. The buds of good avocado trees were grafted into Mười’s trees.

In 2006, his avocado garden offered the first batch of fruit, which amazed local people.

“Grafted avocado trees showed a wonderful result, both in quality and quantity,” he said.

Four years later, he registered the brand called BXM standing for Bơ Xuân Mười (Xuân Mười’s Avocado). Today, there are several types of avocados numbered BXM1, BXM2 and BXM4 which are widely planted on the Central Highlands.

Mười’s avocado journey turned a new page when he accompanied Professor Nguyễn Lân Dũng to Australia under the framework of an agricultural cooperation program.

“Mười has successfully grafted Australian avocado buds onto thousands of Việt Nam indigenous avocado trees. In the future, this model will be duplicated at many other farms in the Central Highlands, helping to improve the economies of five provinces in the area,” said Dũng.

From his 1.3ha garden, Mười is now the owner of a 12ha farm where not only BXM avocado trees are planted but also other varieties.

“We earn VNĐ15 billion (US$650,000) a year. A nursery of 120,000 grafted avocado trees promises to bring us a huge profit in the future,” he said.

In his vast farm, there is one tree that has proven itself the best avocado tree. Every year, the tree brings him VNĐ50 million ($2,200), all of which he gives to charity. — VNS


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