The strawberry whisperer with a BA in economics hinh anh 1Vu Van Luc says growing strawberries is more economically efficient than some other plants in Moc Chau (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi  (VNS/VNA) - After graduation from Hanoi’s National Economic University, all the friends of Bachelor of Economics Vu Van Luc sought jobs in the city. But he decided to return to his homeland in the northern mountainous province of Son La to realise his dream of cultivating strawberries.

From the trial plot growing on 1,000sq.m in Moc Chau district, the young man now owns 4ha of strawberries and makes an average profit of 500 million VND (21,700 USD) per year.

Luc was born and raised in Ang village, Dong Sang commune of Moc Chau district.  Since childhood, he dreamed of growing up to become an agronomist.

However, after graduating from high school in 2009, Luc enrolled and went on to study at the National Economic University, following his parents’ advices.

During college, he stumbled onto an article on the Internet about method of strawberry cultivation that was highly economically efficient, Luc told online newspaper.  

His passion for agriculture suddenly returned.

In the city, he decided to plant a trial strawberry garden on a 10sq.m plot.

“Every day, after class, besides reviewing my homework, I spent all my free time caring for my small strawberry garden,” he said.

Over time, he learned how to grow the plants most effectively and came to enjoy the process.

“Looking at the strawberry plants growing well, I felt very excited and intended to develop the farming model when I returned to the countryside," he recalled.

In 2013, he graduated from the University with a good degree. Rather than applying for a job in State agencies or enterprises in the city like his classmates, Luc determined to pursue the dream of making a life for himself by growing strawberries.

Thinking that “To succeed, you must gain practical experiences”, he went directly to the Central Highlands city of Da Lat to learn techniques from the experienced strawberry growers. He didn’t hesitate to work for a large strawberry garden’s owner in Da Lat. After two years, Lực had accumulated much experience in planting strawberries and decided to return to his homeland of Moc Chau to set up his farming model.

He remembered that when he decided to grow strawberries in his hometown, his parents didn’t object but didn’t show much cheerfulness. Many neighbours commented that so far no one had brought a “strange tree" like the strawberry to plant in Moc Chau. But he kept the words out of his ears, determined to turn his dream into reality.

500 million VND profit from 4ha of strawberry

In 2015, with the money he saved while working as hired labour in Da Lat, he borrowed more money from family, relatives and friends and then invested in renting land and buying seeds for his trial planting on a 1,000 sq.m area.

Thanks to the proper planting and care, his strawberry orchard has grown well.

After three months, he collected the first sweet fruit. His first harvest netted a profit of nearly 30 million VND.

This first victory helped him gain more confidence and boldly invest in expanding the strawberry growing area.

He now grows on all four hectares of his strawberry garden at Moc Chau. The result has surprised and impressed not only his relatives but also people all over town.

According to Luc, the strawberry is temperate plant, suitable for Moc Chau’s cool weather all year round.

“Easy to plant and easy to care for, but its economic efficiency is many times higher than that of maize, cassava,” he revealed about strawberry.

“Strawberry cultivation is not technically demanding, but it must be hard for farmers to earn high benefit.”

He said the most decisive step in the development of strawberries was the selection of seed. Seedlings should be healthy plants so that they can resist diseases during the process of growing up. Land preparation must ensure porosity, clean soil and the right dosage of fertilizer at each stage of plant’s development. Among his total 4ha is a 4,000sq.m greenhouse.

In order to save labour, he has invested in a small irrigation system based on Israeli technology. He adjusts the water-volume depending on the weather; for example, he waters two to three times each sunny day.

He developed his strawberry growing model based on the principles of clean agriculture, eschewing pesticides.

With their characteristic red and fragrant berries, Fragaria and Chipi strawberries are preferred by many customers. Traders from Sơn La and Hanoi poured into his garden to purchase fruit.

In 2017, he earned 1 billion VND revenue from his strawberry plot. After expenses such as seeds, fertilizer and harvest, he earned a 500 million VND profit.

He also created regular jobs for more than 20 local labourers with an average income of 4.5 million VND per person per month. This motivates  the young man to continue to work on the strawberry garden. -VNA