|Pigging out: Tran Dang Truyen checks on his pigsty.
Tran Dang Truyen, a veteran in Quang Tri Province, built a small fortune from scratch after those around him called him crazy for leasing a large swath of abandoned land to raise pigs and fish. Thanh Thuy reports.
Tran Dang Truyen, 76, became famous partly because he stubbornly accepted a dare to build a hut and work in an overgrown field.
He was born into a poor household and had many brothers. In January 1965, he joined a militia force operating under orders from Quang Tri Province's irrigation office to protect the La Nga dam in Vinh Linh during the American War.
From October 1968 to October 1971, he was part of the youth volunteer force of the Youth Union of Vinh Linh, fighting for and repairing the dam that bore water to the farmers.
After southern Viet Nam was liberated, he worked at the Ben Hai irrigation management station, now known as Vinh Linh Irrigation Company.
He retired in 1989 with five young children to support and very little money.
Determined to escape poverty, he invested in fish farming, rice growing, egg incubation and pig farming in 2002.
Truyen recalled being called crazy when he leased 7ha of land to develop his fields, fish pond and pig sty.
Today, looking at his green farm with its large fish ponds, few people realise this barren land was once abandoned, leaving it overgrown with tall weeds and filled with bomb craters.
Truyen was undaunted by the challenges as he believed in the adage, "With enough manpower, stones become rice".
Every day, from early in the morning until late at night, he worked in the field, building embankments, creating irrigation channels and clearing out weeds.
"My wife and I worked hard all day long, yet we still failed. We invested money borrowed from relatives to raise 800 ducks, hoping to improve our family's situation. Unfortunately, most of the ducks contracted a disease and died, so we were left with only 13 ducks.
"All our hopes and efforts seemed to be suppressed. My wife and I lost sleep for a month when the ducks died and our money was lost.
"Refusing to give in to our fate and believing in the saying, 'We have lost one match, so we will try another', my wife and I sold all our furniture to get the funds to raise 10 pigs and to expand our fish farming area.
"God does not betray his people, so we gradually rebuilt our finances and earned enough money to repay our creditors and expand production."
|Reeling it in: Truyen is famous for fish farming.Visitors to Vinh Thuy Commune of Vinh Linh District in the central province of Quang Tri need only enquire about "Truyen fish" here to be directed to the large house by the main road.
Today, despite his age, Truyen is still working at the farm every day.
Chairman of Vinh Thuy Commune Phan Ngoc Nghia confirmed that Truyen's family was once very poor.
"He was not resigned to his fate; instead, he led the way to reclaim overgrown land and built a farm with rice fields, fish ponds and a pig sty.
"After many false starts, today, his farm is one of the most successful in our commune and employs many of the locals. The farm can be used as a strong, efficient and economic model for other families," Nghia said.
In addition, as part of efforts to develop the countryside in his district, Truyen also provides young livestock and technical guidance to other farmers.
Due to his tireless efforts, Truyen's 7ha farm produces 18 tonnes of rice per year, and he earns some VND35 million from selling fish. His family provides more than 30,000 fry to the market each year.
He also raises more than 300 chickens, 40 pigs and more than 1,500 ducks.
Truyen has bought a rice harvester, two freight vans, water pumps and rice threshers.
Every year, his farm earns a net profit of more than VND200 million. So far, Truyen does not seem to want to retire.
He said he would guide and support his descendants, advising them to continue expanding their investment plans to cultivate new kinds of crops and livestock and to continue purchasing more farming machinery.
Chairman of Vinh Linh District's Veteran Association Tran Minh Hien said, "Truyen has been a role model for many years, leading the association's members towards economic development.
"His garden, fish pond, pig sty farm has encouraged other members to actively learn his methods and to adopt his creative spirit.
"We see how relentless he is when he works, even though he is old. He remains a good example for the younger generations to follow," he said. — VNS