Aus4EqualitySuccess storiesHigh-quality vegetable seedlings changing lives of Muong women

High-quality vegetable seedlings changing lives of Muong women

Like many Muong ethnic minority women in her community, Mrs Dinh Thi Huong lacked confidence in the business dealings associated with the farm she and her husband operate in Van Ho District in Vietnam’s Son La Province.

Mrs Huong and her husband, Mr Hoang Van Nong, faced many difficulties in sourcing quality vegetable seedlings needed to grow and harvest good quality crops of sufficient quantity.

The couple has been participating in a vegetable production project implemented via a partnership between the Australian Government-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and tourism (GREAT) Program, the Applied Horticultural Research (AHR Centre), BVB-Substrates, SemillasFito, Gautier, Royal Brinkman and Fresh Studio.

This aims to provide quality seedlings to farming households in the region in order to increase household incomes. Mrs Huong registered with the project to construct a greenhouse nursery of 350m2. The greenhouse ensures optimum conditions for seedling growth and development.

In May 2020, Mrs Huong and her husband signed the cooperation agreement with the Project, witnessed by the Commune’s People’s Committee representative.

On 5 July 2020, Mrs Huong’s nursery sowed the new seeds for the first time. With the dedicated support of the Fresh Studio staff and on-site practice, Mrs Huong quickly mastered the new production methods.

Only 17 days later, Mrs Huong sold the first batch of seedlings produced from the new seed varieties, including lettuce and squash, in addition to cabbage and other standard vegetables in high demand from local farmers.  

Mrs Huong learns new seedling production methods in Hang Trung Village, Van Ho Commune

The project has worked with selected households to co-invest in building nurseries, coach and educate farmers on skills to grow seedlings and develop production and business plans. Workshops and farmer field days were organised in the nursery for Mrs Huong to share the new seedling production methods with local farmers.

Field workshop/study tour to Mrs Huong’s nursery house in Van Ho commune

Mrs Huong’s seedlings have received positive feedback from local buyers. Advantages include a big soil block, healthy seedlings with strong roots and quick recovery once planted in the field. By the end of December 2020, only six months after starting, Mrs Huong had sold more than 330,000 vegetable seedlings (cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and lettuce) and new vegetable varieties (Bafana Lettuce, Happy Broccoli and Matelo Broccoli) to more than 100 households in the region. This generated revenue of VND 110 million and created new jobs for local women. In addition to herself and her husband, Mrs Huong also employs five part-time workers (four are women). From July 2020 to December 2020, their average income increased by VND 4-5 million a month compared to before the project.

“Building the nursery greenhouse to produce high-quality vegetable seedlings was a good decision which brings us a stable income,” said Mrs Huong. “We can now cover our living costs and have some savings,” she added.

Customers come to her nursery garden to buy seedlings

In addition to producing seedlings in her nursery garden, Mrs Huong also actively shares her experience with other nursery gardens involved in the project in Moc Chau and Van Ho.

As a result of Mrs Huong’s engagement, another woman from her village, Mrs Hoang Thi Nghiep registered to construct the second nursery in the village. Mrs Huong also trained her in seedling production skills.

To date, the project has successfully strengthened the supply of seedlings to local farming households in both quantity and quality and also introduced new varieties.