One day in late 2013, I went off to the sunny and windy land of Gia Lai on a mission.
On the way to the Cambodian border, we stopped the car in front of a spacious house with a large yard and a luxuriant coffee garden next to the inter-communal road of Dac Roong, Dac Hoa district.
The farm owner Vu Dinh Bam, a Cam Giang native like Major Luong Hai Nhuan, Chief Representative of the Army Television Center’s Permanent Agency in the Central Highlands, was instructing several local people in pruning and taking care of coffee trees.
Sitting by a cup of strong-flavored coffee, Bam told us the early days when he set up his business in a strange land.
“It was 1979 when we young people set off for this land to build a new economic zone in response to the Fatherland’s call. Fresh arrivals in forests and mountains full of mosquitoes and terrestrial leeches, my wife and I had only bare hands under our belts,” Bam recalled.
“The first days were very wretched. I had to go to the forests many times to glean each piece of cassava left in mountainous fields after harvest to eat in place of rice. However, my husband and I still encouraged each other to determinedly stay. We still believed that we would be able to dominate over this vast and fertile basaltic region,” Bui Thi Tham, Bam’s wife, shared with teary eyes.
It was the firm belief that helped Bam and his wife gradually overcome all difficulties.
The couple managed to settle down and learnt techniques for growing coffee, rubber, and pepper at the same time. Then, they reclaimed land and turned it into a 5-ha farm for coffee planting.
Applying the experience of lay ngan nuoi dai (doing small things to raise capital for big ones) in the hometown, he also planted rice, sowed corn, beans, and bred pigs, chickens; as a result, the family’s income began to be stable.
Several years later when coffee could be harvested, his family became better off.
The estimable thing was that Bam did business well and earned billions of dong each year but he did not keep the know-how to himself. Thanks to his support of food and clothes when hungry, loan of capital, fertilizers, and plants, and technical guidance, many people in the windy and sunny highland bettered themselves with stable lives.
Local authorities recognized and praised Bam for his spirit of overcoming difficulties and good business sense so that the people can learn.
Before the car entered Chu Ty district town, an officer of the border district of Duc Co had mentioned Pham Van Hao in Duc Hung hamlet, Ia Nan commune, a man from Hai Duong doing business there as well as Bam with billions of dong earned from cashew, rubber, and coffee.
We began the conversation with Hao by asking him how a person coming there from as far as our native land Thanh Mien could be so successful with cashew and rubber trees.
“It is not too difficult to grow and care cashew and rubber trees because the soil here is very suitable to these kinds of trees. Just take great pains to learn from experiences of those doing before; technical experts will give advice in any case of difficulty,” Hao said.
It was easy enough to say so but not so easy to have spacious premises with over 10 ha of cashew, coffee, and rubber bringing about billions of dong each year from only VND2 million of capital when Hao and his wife set foot in this remote border district of Duc Co 15 years ago.
After nearly six years pouring all money and efforts into the cashew garden, Hao started to reap the fruits of his labors when earning over VND100 million from his first crop in 2009.
The proceeds almost doubled one year later and reached VND600 million in 2011. The harvest alone helped him clear his bank debts.
This year, apart from 11 ha of cashew are being harvested, his 2.5-ha rubber garden is also about to be tapped. The money he will earn is likely to amount to billions of dong, according to cursory calculation.
LE THANH VINH