|Profits: Chairman of Xuân Quan Village, Lê Quý Đôn (first left) says the average yield from flower growing makes a profit of VNĐ1-1.5 billion ($43,000-64,400) per hectare per year. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
Switching from rice and maize to growing flowers and applying high-tech methods has helped Xuân Quan Commune earn VNĐ200 billion (US$8.7 million) each year. Bùi Quỳnh Hoa reports.
The rainy season has hit the north of the country causing the sky to turn black in almost an instant. Everywhere you go, people are talking about thunderstorms, floods, tree falling, landslides and the number of fatalities.
We left Hà Nội on a working trip to Xuân Quan Commune, a young flower hub in Hưng Yên Province’s Văn Giang District, but as the clouds moved in, we were worried that we wouldn’t get the chance to get outside to interview locals, take photographs and shoot a video. But wow, God blessed us. When we got there, beautiful flowers in an array of vibrant colours greeted us in sunshine. Rows of small houses nestled amongst flower and ornamental plant gardens in full bloom were a sight we dared not dream of as we left the capital.
Grow flowers, earn a fortune
Xuân Quan has been transformed from a land of rice and maize cultivation in recent years to a rich area which could supply flowers and ornamental plants to clients in many major cities throughout the country.
According to Lê Quý Đôn, chief of Xuân Quan Commune, local people have made full use of every inch of land to grow flowers, as farm land narrows due to urbanisation.
Some have even become millionaires thanks to the move.
“At present, the village has about 170 hectares of arable land used for growing flowers and ornamental plants with roses, chrysanthemums, dahlias, lilies, and orchids, to name but a few, along with trees for gardens and interior decor. A total of 872 households are involved in the flower industry, accounting for more than a third of the population,” Đôn said.
“The whole commune makes an estimated VNĐ200 billion (US$8.7 million) per year, with each household making a profit of VNĐ300 million ($12,800) to VNĐ3 billion ($1.28 million) per year. The work has created jobs for more than 1,000 workers in the commune and other regions with an average income of VNĐ4.5-6 million ($193-258) per month,” he said.
|Money doesn’t grow on trees: Nguyễn Văn Tuyên with a bonsai tree which costs VND130 million ($5,600). — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
Unlike farmers in other flower communes like Tây Tựu (Bắc Từ Liêm District) and Mê Linh (Vĩnh Phúc Province) who sell cut flowers on the first and 15th day of the lunar month and festive holidays, Xuân Quan’s farmers have found their own way to meet the demand by selling flower plants, hanging baskets, bonsai trees, and trees for garden and interior decor all year round.
“We’re proud to say that Xuân Quan has all kinds of flowers and ornamental plants which are sold in the local market,” said Nguyễn Văn Thơm, the owner of a 5,000sq.m flower garden who makes an average profit of VNĐ2.5 billion ($107,500) a year. “Xuân Quan has about 200 species of roses alone," he added.
|Rose garden: Nguyễn Minh Đức (front) and Nguyễn Văn Thơm pick roses to show their clients . —VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
“Our flowers are of high quality with long-time guarantees, and prices are also comparative, from VNĐ5,000 per sapling to hundreds of millions đồng for a bonsai tree. That’s why more and more clients are coming to us,” Thơm said.
Nguyễn Văn Tuyên, 36, who imported roses and forest orchids to grow on an area of 7,000sq.m, said the supply from Xuân Quan still could not meet the market demand last year.
“We are happy to have earned trust and built a reputation for our products. The more flowers we sell, the more our lives are improved,” Tuyên said with a broad smile.
|Spectacular: Flowers booming in Xuân Quan Village. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
Nguyễn Minh Đức, 40, the owner of a 1,000sq.m garden, is also a leading farmer in the commune who has studied in China, Thailand, the Philippines and other neighbouring countries to learn more about their techniques and to buy their new “mother” plants.
“I have also invested a lot of money in building nets, greenhouses, frames and modern equipment,” Đức said.
These help the flowers grow well and earn him a profit of VNĐ2 billion ($85,900) per year.
Leaving Đức’s garden, we visited Phan Ngọc Oanh, one of the first flower farmers in the village.
“I started my business in 1989. I loved flowers so much that I decided to switch from food crops to flowers,” Oanh said. “Many people thought I was crazy at the time, but I didn’t care. I was happy to devote myself to it.”
|Thirsty work: Flowers being watered. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
Oanh took part in training courses held by the commune in collaboration with the Việt Nam Agriculture Institute and the provincial Development Centre for Flowers and Ornamental Plants. He also flew to other countries frequently to learn new techniques.
In 2016, he decided to focus on high-tech genetic engineering.
“I have invested billions of đồng to build four genetic engineering labs with advanced equipment, and invited two Thai experts to work at my labs for six months to experiment with genetic engineering,” Oanh said.
Genetic engineering is an asexual multiplication method which provides perfect efficiency for flower growing. Applying the technique, Oanh has about 20,000 orchid saplings, 500,000 gerbera saplings and 5,000 cymbidium saplings.
|Innovation: Farmer Phan Ngọc Oanh checks his saplings raised using asexual multiplication. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
“The whole commune has to pay an estimated VNĐ100 billion ($4.3 million) each year to buy “mother” flower plants from other countries,” he said.
“If my experimentation with genetic engineering is a success, the local farmers won’t have to buy expensive plants from abroad any more.
“My dream is to become a sapling supplier for not only Xuân Quan and other flower villages across the country, but also foreign markets which we used to import from.
“Furthermore, the Earth is becoming hotter and hotter, so investment in green trees is needed to protect our environment,” Oanh said.
|Attraction: More and more people are visiting Xuân Quan for its high-quality flowers. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
Located adjacent to Hà Nội, Ecopark Green City and Bát Tràng Pottery Village, Xuân Quan is an ideal spot to attract more visitors.
Nowadays, thousands of visitors head to the commune to buy flowers, bonsai and other ornamental plants, and to take photographs and videos.
Last year, the commune held a flower festival for the first time involving around 700 households.
“Facing this rapid development, Xuân Quan has drawn up measures to tap its full potential and strengths to develop flowers and ornamental plants and improve economic efficiency,” commune chief Đôn said.
“We are also asking agencies to help with building wholesale markets and invest in infrastructure such as roads and irrigation works so we can promote our flowers and bonsai more effectively,” he added. — VNS