Quang Tri’s barefoot Huu stands in his acacia garden in the central province of Quảng Tri. (Photo: nongnghiep.vn)

Quang Tri (VNA) - Dang Quang Huu, 44, of Dakrong district in the central province of Quang Tri, is known as a bank owner who has risen from owning nothing to offering loans to 600 poor local households. 

Unlike other financiers, he requires no interest payments, supporting them as they grow forests to escape from poverty.

Huu was born in Gia Dang village – a poor village near the sea in Trieu Phong district. He left his hometown in 2003 to work in Huong Hoa Forestry Enterprise in Dakrong district in the hope of escaping poverty.

No longer after, he met and married his wife, a Van Kieu ethnic minority woman named Ho Thi Huong. They married without money, but with love and ideas to build a prosperous life together.

At first, the couple decided to grow forest under the encouraging policies from the Government at that time, the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported.

“I had to borrow money from a bank to buy the first seedlings to grow 1ha of acacia forest,” he said.

After several months, the baby acacia trees grew day by day. Five years later, Huu had 21ha of acacia forest. Huu then started planting cassava and running an acacia seedling garden. He earned profits of nearly 1 billion VND (44,000 USD) each year.

“At that time, I thought, ‘I finally escaped from poverty, so, why can’t other people?” he said.

“I start thinking of how to help them to get out of poverty,” he added.

He thought of inviting people to see how he planted the acacia forest and lending them money to buy acacia seedlings as well as hire an agricultural tractor to till land.

Hữu’s story of becoming a banker began there.

Hữu initially made loans only with the money he had. People did not have to pay any interest.

Then, when the number of people borrowing from him increased, Huu decided to borrow money from banks under the Government’s Programme 30A, with a low interest rate of 0.29 percent each year. He used the money to lend to the local poor people, who still had to pay no interest.

The money that local people borrowed from him fluctuated between several millions of dong to dozens of millions of dong. Some borrow money from him and pay back within a year or two, while some take more than 10 years.

It is estimated that he lends people a total of 1.5 billion VND (66,000 USD) each year.

600 households escape poverty

Ho Van Van, 40, of the district’s Huong Hiep commune, said that several years ago, he was very poor. “My income even could not cover daily expenses,” he said. “But Huu helped me. He lent me 3,000 acacia seedlings and he even lent me money enough to hire an agricultural tractor to till land for growing the trees.”

It costs about 20 million VND (880 USD) to till land and buy seedlings to grow 1ha of acacia forest. If a farmer plants 1ha of cassava, it costs about 15 million VND (660 USD).

Vân now has 5ha of acacia forest and 1ha of cassava. He earns about 300 million VND (13,200 USD) each year.

Ho Van Nguyen, of the district’s Mo O commune, said he already borrowed 22 million VND (968 USD) from Huu to plant 4ha of cassava last year.

Nguyen said he could pay the money for Huu now but he already asked Huu to let him pay the debt one year later so that Nguyen could buy a new agricultural tractor. Huu agreed.

Nguyen Thi Ha, chairwoman of the district’s Farmer’s Association, said Huu was a good example for local people there.

"He sparked the will to escape poverty for many people in the district," she said.

Thanks to Huu, the local people have planted about 1,000ha of acacia forest and 500ha of cassava so far.

Le Phuc Thien, chairman of the provincial Farmer’s Association, said Huu was a farmer with great kindness.

Huu received the award of “The most compassionate farmer of Vietnam”, given by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Central Commission of Propaganda and Training in late 2016. He was also gifted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s certificate of merit to honour him as an outstanding farmer of the country.

Huu said “My dream is not becoming richer, my dream is helping poor farmers escaping from poverty,” he said. - VNA