Half a decade ago, pineapple farmers in the Central Province of Phu Yen’s Phu Hoa town often suffered losses due to price fluctuation. In some years, the pineapple price fell dramatically, causing many people to leave the land vacant. However, thanks to the efforts and wisdom of farmer Nguyen Hoang Chuong, Dong Din pineapples have recently been sold like a hot cake and become popular commercial products with 3-4 star products in the One Commune One Product (OCOP) program.
In 2006, Mr. Chuong was working in Ho Chi Minh City when he suddenly left the southern largest city for his hometown - Dong Din Commune - to pursue his passion for farming. Inheriting five hectares of hilly land from his father, Mr. Chuong began planning and rebuilding the pineapple garden. On these days, villagers called him Chuong "2 baskets", because he was driving motorbikes with 2 bamboo or plastic woven baskets to buy pineapples from villagers and then selling the fruit in local wholesale markets.
Mr. Chuong remembered in the past, pineapple prices were very volatile. For instance, from 2014-2015, the price of pineapple dropped dramatically. He said he felt sad when selling pineapples sometimes because pineapples are delicious and it takes many months of care to bear fruit, but the price was too low.
By 2016, through social networks, Mr. Chuong knew that many countries and territories, including Taiwan (China), had succeeded in processing the fruit into confectionery for sale and export at very high prices. He decided to do pineapple sweets and cakes to help raise farmers’ income. He surfed the internet to find documents, learned to bake via YouTube, and learned about start-up models from radio and newspapers.
After making pineapple confectioneries, he took samples of pineapple products to departments, agencies, centers, universities, high schools, colleges, and research institutes for evaluation. Finally, a teacher who specializes in baking in Tuy Hoa City in Phu Yen Province taught him the secret of making clean and safe pineapple cakes.
In the old days, every time when the pineapple price dropped, farmers in Dong Din Commune brought pineapple to Mr. Chuong for making cakes with the hope that he can be successful in making confectionery to help all villagers improve the value of the fruit. Thanks to the encouragement of the villagers, along with his enthusiasm and passion for persistent studies, Mr. Chuong's first batch of pineapple cakes was successfully baked and they were sold like hot cakes. So delighted that he continued to make the second product - Dong Din dried pineapple candy. He started to borrow money to open a closed factory and invest in equipment, technology, and machinery, and hired local laborers to produce confectioneries.
Mr. Chuong has made six commercial products from pineapple including pineapple cake, pineapple candy, pineapple vinegar, pineapple enzyme dishwashing liquid, pineapple floor cleaner, and pineapple wine. In addition, he also buys more bamboo shoots and leaves from people's pineapple gardens to create two other product lines Dong Din bamboo shoots and Dong Din dried bamboo leaves. Wonderfully, the final products such as pineapple corpses and peels are delivered to residential areas for composting, along with kitchen waste, and household waste to fertilize pineapples.
Thanks to organic production, 8 products including 6 products from pineapple and 2 by-products of Mr. Chuong are recognized as 3-4-star OCOP products. The products of Dong Din cooperative are now widely sold in domestic markets, especially in the South Central region through grocery stores, supermarkets, and wholesale markets. Furthermore, these organic products have been introduced and sold in countries like Japan and China. Recently, Mr. Chuong has completed procedures for exporting products to China through official channels.
In October 2018, Mr. Chuong established the Dong Din Agricultural and Business General Cooperative, specializing in the production and trading of agricultural products in combination with public services, tree care, parks, and sanitation. Initially, the cooperative helped people consume pineapple at a stable price and created jobs for locals in the commune.
Currently, the pineapple raw material area that meets the organic production standards of Dong Din Cooperative has reached 400 hectares. To expand the pineapple growing land , Mr. Chuong traveled to Tu Nghia Commune in the Central Province of Quang Ngai which is suitable for growing pineapple. Therefore, the Dong Din cooperative has connected with 9 households here to grow pineapples and sell products to the cooperative which will provide farmers with seeds, planting techniques and care until consumption on an offtake agreement at a stable price.
Mr. Chuong added that he is currently researching and planting 2,000 American black Israel figs and American sweet figs, and 300 camphor trees to expand the product chain of the same line. He revealed that in the upcoming time, he is planning for community-based tourism to support communities through tourism activities, and aims to offer tourists an authentic local experience in farming.
In mid-October, Mr. Chuong was honored by the Central Committee of the Vietnam Farmers' Association as one of the 100 most outstanding farmers in the country and awarded the title ‘Excellent Vietnamese farmer in 2022’.