HCMC develops urban agriculture

In 2019, the average income of a rural resident in HCMC was about VND63 million (US$2,743) per year, up 58 percent compared to 2015. The area of agricultural land and the number of agricultural, forestry, and fishery households decreased. However, the GRDP in the agricultural sector still increased because farmers had applied high technology to agricultural production and shifted to valuable crops and livestock, with the support of the city's policy of supporting interest rates on loans for agricultural investment.
HCMC develops urban agriculture ảnh 1 Nguyen Van Thanh, 29, quits his job to return home to work as a farmer. (Photo: SGGP)
In the early days of April, we came back to visit Nguyen Van Tho's orchid garden in Binh Chanh Commune in Binh Chanh District and have the opportunity to get acquainted with his son Nguyen Van Thanh, 29, his new assistant. Interestingly, despite owning a master's degree in Chemistry and having worked at a research institute, Thanh still quit his job and returned home to work as a farmer with his father.

“During the recent Covid-19 pandemic, I stayed home with my parents. I found agricultural production interesting, especially with an orchid garden of about 8,000 square meters of my family. Therefore, I decided to quit my job to work as a farmer,” Thanh confided when observing water pollution measurements.

With his son's assistance, Tho's orchid garden has been upgraded to increase the production area. The water source for irrigation has also been replaced by a water source whose quality is controlled by new technology, so it is more stable. “Orchid production depends on imported orchid varieties, so it is difficult to control quality and pathogens. My garden once imported a batch of orchids with poor yield, so I learned more about cultivation and tissue culture, aiming at proactively supplying seedlings," Thanh said.

Meanwhile, in Binh Loi Commune, Binh Chanh District, Dau Thanh Tung, an employee of a rubber company, has grown bonsai coconut trees whose selling price is from VND250,000 to several million Vietnamese dongs per tree. More than two years ago, Tung only tried it out of passion, but when he was able to plant some coconut trees for home decoration, he found that bonsai coconut trees had high economic value and could be economically developed, so he grew hundreds more bonsai coconut trees. Bonsai coconut trees can be created from various coconut varieties, and each type of coconut gives different leaf color. Currently, Tung's bonsai coconut garden has more than 300 trees. In the first harvest in the 2022 Lunar New Year, he sold nearly 200 bonsai coconut trees. In the coming time, Tung plans to create products in the shape of 12 Vietnamese zodiac animals.

Due to the increasingly limited agricultural land fund in HCMC, not only Tung but many other farmers have also flexibly converted the production model from being land-intensive to using land more efficiently with the cultivation of ornamental plants of high economic value. Some Koi fish and rice eel farming models in Tan Nhut Commune in Binh Chanh District have adopted a circulation system with much higher productivity than conventional pond culture. The model of raising eels and rice eels in Hung Long Commune, Binh Chanh District, using a circulating biological filtration system, reusing water combined with hydroponic vegetable farming, helps improve productivity on the same farming area and save costs. Farmers harvest fish and vegetables at the same time but only have to spend money on fish feed. This farming model is also environmentally friendly.

Speeding up new rural area construction

During the years of implementing the National Target Program on building new rural areas, the infrastructure in many rural areas was upgraded, which has positively impacted the production and business activities of farmers. According to Mr. Le Huu Thien, Thien Duc Bonsai Joint Stock Company, the irrigation works to create clean water for farming have helped the unit develop and supply many products for domestic and foreign markets.

Mr. Pham Van Luy, Acting Chairman of the People's Committee of Binh Chanh District, acknowledged that thanks to the development towards urban agriculture, high-tech agriculture, ecological agriculture, and the advantage of the infrastructure improvement of the new rural area construction program, many farmers had switched to cultivating crops of higher value, including the cultivation of yellow Mai flower in Binh Loi Commune, green-skinned pomelo in Pham Van Hai Commune, the aquaculture of ornamental fish in Binh Loi, Phong Phu and Tan Nhut communes, and orchid farming model in Binh Chanh, Tan Quy Tay, and Hung Long communes. Currently, the district has been striving to attract investment, develop enterprises, cooperatives, and cooperative groups in the field of agriculture to create agricultural products with high productivity, quality, safety, and environmental protection, meeting the market demand, associating with the development of the tourism industry, contributing to creating jobs for local workers, raising income and the living standards of people in rural areas.

Mr. Dinh Minh Hiep, Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of HCMC, assessed that up to now, HCMC's agriculture is on the way to forming urban agriculture with sustainable development and green growth, bringing higher values to farmers. Farmers still cling to agricultural land and produce high-tech agricultural production in the direction of multi-value agriculture, especially when many young people with high professional qualifications return to farming. Urban agriculture must be developed following the planning of HCMC in the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to 2050, associated with various types of tourism and services, developing other product categories under the 'One Commune, One Product' program to diversify production and raise people's income. It is essential to build and renovate technical infrastructure and create favorable conditions for developing the production and business activities of farmers.

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