Châu Thị Xéo, director of Châu Rế Agricultural Service Cooperative, inspects some asparagus. VNA/VNS Photo
NINH THUẬN — A Chăm ethnic minority woman in the southern province of Ninh Thuận has helped her community prosper by growing asparagus on sandy soil.
Châu Thị Xéo lives in Phước Hải Commune, Ninh Phước District and her business earns high and stable profits, while also helping many local Chăm households flourish as well.
She said she understood how hard local people had to work in the sandy =region, where the climate is dry and hot year-round.
"The difficult life forces many women to leave their homeland to work away from home," she said.
In an effort to help her community develop economically, she scoured documents and books and sought out other farms to learn about drought-adaptive production models.
She discovered the local land had potential to grow asparagus trees and help her community escape poverty.
In late 2016, she rehabilitated her arid land ti plant plant one sào (1,000 sq.m) of asparagus.
She applied an advanced irrigation system and technical planting process, so the asparagus grew well with high yield.
From the initial economic efficiency, she decided to expand her production area to five sào of asparagus.
"My family earns more than VNĐ40 million a month, much higher compared to the average income of local farmers.”
Realising the potential to grow asparagus on the local sandy soil, she urged other households to get inviolved.
“I see that women who have jobs and stable incomes will be respected in their families and the society," she said.
She worked with the communal Women's Union and People's Committee to establish Châu Rế Agricultural Service Cooperative in 2018.
The co-operative, with Xéo elected as director, mainly connected asparagus growers, farms and traders to help local people, especially women, have stable jobs and escape poverty.
To help members get their farms off the ground, the co-operative provided seeds, fertiliser and insecticides and officials gave instructions on planting techniques according to VietGAP standards to farmers.
It also checked and purchased all products from farmers.
Từ Thị Tuyết Trinh, a farmer, said: "Previously, my family grew many different plants on three sào of land but withlow productivity and income due to sandy soil and a lack of water for irrigation.”
Since Trinh’s family joined the co-operative, they were encouraged to invest money to drill wells, devise an economical watering system and convert to growing asparagus.
“Asparagus is quite easy to grow, and growers periodically fertilise but only need to water, check for pests, and harvest bamboo shoots in the morning,” she said.
“Growers harvest for three months and then take a month off to nourish the plants.”
“I have a stable harvest, on average, each day, I collect more than 30kg of shoots. The cooperative purchases all at VNĐ50,000/kg, and my family has a turnover of more than VNĐ1.5 million per day.”
From 37 original members, up to now, the co-operative has 83 members, including 63 women.
The members work together to produce asparagus on nearly 20 hectares.
Every day, the co-operative purchases more than 300kg of asparagus, and vegetables, beans, and tomatoes.
The lowest income of members is VNĐ10 million per month and the highest is up to VNĐ90 million each month.
Initially, the cooperative had seven poor households. Now, all of them have escaped from poverty.
Huỳnh Thanh Huy Thái, Vice Chairman of the comunal People's Committee, said that Xéo has received many certificates of merit from the local authorities.
“She is a typical individual with outstanding achievements in building Ninh Phước District to reach the standards of new-style countryside,” Thái said. — VNS