|Farmer Phạm Ngọc Hải (right) first brought Đà Lạt daisies to the northern province of Tuyên Quang over ten years ago. The flowers have helped lift Hải’s family and other locals out of poverty. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Đán
TUYÊN QUANG — A visit to the Central Highlands city of Đà Lạt in 2007 marked a milestone for a couple from the northern province of Tuyên Quang after they brought the Đà Lạt daisy back to their home town.
They were the first farmers to grow the Đà Lạt daisy in the province and in the past few years have managed to earn about VNĐ300 million (US$13,000) thanks to the flower.
Phạm Ngọc Hải and his wife Trần Hồng Lý live in Thắng Quang Commune in the province’s Yên Sơn District. They are known as the ‘daisy-growing billionaires’.
When they started growing the daisy on the dry soil, local people were sceptical about the venture because the daisy prefers cool weather, while in Tuyên Quang it’s very sunny in summer and very cold in winter.
It was also unlikely that people in this poor area would buy the expensive flower.
Hải said that during a visit to a relative in Đà Lạt in 2007, he first learned about daisy farming. After one week of learning the techniques from Đà Lạt farmers, he bought 3,000 daisy seedlings to plant in his garden in Tuyên Quang.
Day by day, he carefully followed instructions, throwing his whole heart into nursing the seedlings.
Three months later, his family harvested the first crop, which fortunately coincided with Tết (Lunar New Year). This meant they could sell the flowers at a surprising VNĐ7,000 per tree.
As the result, they earned profit of nearly VNĐ12 million ($518).
“We were so surprised and happy because of the profit which was much more than the profits from other crops like corn or cassava,” Hải said.
Hải and Lý gradually expanded their flower farm – from 5,000 seedlings to 40,000 seedlings per year.
These days they plant about 60,000 daisy seedlings, varying in type. On average, they sell each plant for VNĐ5,000-7,000, earning up to VNĐ300 million in profit per year.
According to Hải, it’s easy to take care of Đà Lạt daisies. The flower is resistant to diseases so it requires little fertiliser. Low production cost, stable prices and little land requirements are other advantages of farming daisies.
Hải said that one sào (equal to 360sq.m) of daisy could generate as much income as 2ha of cassava or corn.
Hải’s daisies are not only sold in Tuyên Quang but also neighbouring provinces of Hà Giang and Yên Bái.
Hải’s family has been prospering thanks to the flower. From a poor family struggling to make ends meet, Hải now can build a new house, have money to invest in 3ha of acacia, grow more than 1,000 grapefruit, orange and tangerine trees plus dig 0.5ha of fishing pond.
Phạm Văn Ngọc, a farmer in Thắng Quân Commune, said that he was one of the local farmers with whom Hải shared his daisy technique.
Ngọc said that last year, his family started growing 40,000 daisy seedlings instead of corn.
Last month, Ngọc’s family harvested 20,000 daisy trees, selling them for VNĐ100 million and gaining profit of VNĐ70 million, Ngọc said, adding that with favourable conditions, they would harvest another 20,000 trees for Tết.
Nguyễn Đức Quyến, vice chairman of Thắng Quân Commune People’s Committee, said that daisy farming generated high profits, thus helped many local families get out of poverty including Hải’s.
“It’s a key crop for local development when the commune is implementing agricultural restructuring for higher efficiency and income,” Quyến said. — VNS