Retired soldier gets rich from macadamia trees

GIA LAI — Veteran Phạm Hữu Đương is busy all day in the garden to look after  八ha of crops that are bringing high profits to his family as well as creating jobs for dozens of locals.

The  七 三-year-old man lives in Ia Phìn Co妹妹une, Chư Prông District, the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai. After getting seriously injured in  一 九 七 九, he left his hometown of Thái Bình to settle in Gia Lai Province.

He began focusing on developing trees, especially pepper and coffee, that suited the Central Highlands' red basaltic soil, Tin Tức (News) online newspaper reported.

After many failures due to improper farming, in  二0 一0, the wounded veteran went to Đắk Lắk Province to buy  一,000 macadamia seedlings to plant in his garden.

The macadamia trees grow well and he decided to plant another  一,000 trees.

His family now has about  八ha of macadamia trees intercropped with coffee, banana, cashew, đinh lăng (polyscias fruticosa) and pepper.

As a pioneer in planting macadamia trees in the province, Đương said: "Macadamia is a woody tree and can be over  一 五m high. It grows very well in this red basaltic soil and can be harvested for  四0- 六0 years.

"I can intercrop other crops in the garden but not affect their growth."

Each year, he can harvest about  一0 tonnes of nuts from  一,000 previously grown macadamia trees. He has also invested in peeling and drying machines, so the product is manufactured under a closed process.

The price of macadamia nut is at VNĐ 二 五0 million (US$ 一0, 七 八0) per tonne.

The retired soldier has signed contracts for his products with businesses in HCM City, earning VNĐ 二. 五 billion ($ 一0 七, 七00) per year.

The current shortage of irrigation water in the dry season and disease outbreaks in trees, especially pepper and coffee trees, have caused risks and affected the income of farmers in the province, according to the province’s Plant Cultivation and Protection Sub-department.

The sub-department has encouraged more farmers to intercrop other plants in their gardens to reduce risks and improve the efficiency of farmland, said Hà Ngọc Uyển, head of the Plant Cultivation and Protection Sub-department.

After many pepper and coffee trees died because of disease outbreaks and old age in recent years, many farmers in the province began intercropping short-term and long-term crops in their gardens.

The intercropping has helped farmers increase income as they waited for harvest of the main crops of coffee and pepper. It also reduced risk of losses when coffee and pepper prices fell, according to farmers.

Retired soldier gets rich from macadamia trees

"When the macadamia trees are young, I harvest pepper, coffee, cashew and bananas,"大众Đương said.