Vietnamese farmer hits jackpot growing white mushrooms

By Bui Hong Nhung, Quoc DungMarch 15, 2016 | 05:34 am PT
A central highlands farmer is earning around $45,000 each month from growing white mushrooms, far outstripping the $2,000 average annual income in Vietnam.

After four years of working as a mechanic in Canada, Tang Thanh Duc quit his job and turned to growing white mushrooms.

In the 1990s, he built a successful business and eventually had more than 100 hectares under cultivation.


White mushrooms with cap's diameter from 3-5 centimeters

Seeing the potential for the crop in Vietnam’s agricultural sector, in 2010, he returned to the country, choosing Duc Trong district in Lam Dong province in the central highlands region where the cool climate is suitable for growing mushrooms.

“White mushrooms are a premium kind of mushroom, and they are especially favored by restaurants in America," Duc said.

"In Vietnam, northern farmers have grown white mushrooms for quite a long time, but on a small scale and without the support of modern technology, so they mainly supply domestic customers. Southern farmers, on the other hand, hardly grow the mushroom at all,” he added.

Duc obtained a business license for the project in 2010, but it was not until July 2014 that his family started growing white mushrooms in Vietnam.

During those four years, he focused putting together the equipment and infrastructure needed to run the farm. Duc travelled back to Canada on several occasions to purchase equipment he was unable to source locally, such as gauges for measuring temperature, light, humidity and wind speed.

The mushroom production line cost him about $1 million. However, due to the relatively small size of the farm, approximately 3,000 square meters, he does not operate at full capacity, he added.

At present, his family turns out 10 tonnes of mushrooms per month, but should customer demand increase he is capable of producing 15 tonnes.

"My wife and I undertook this project in order to introduce a more technological approach to farming here. I’m very happy that many local farmers came to visit us on the day we officially began operations. However, it’s not easy for them to apply the same techniques. The work requires farmers to have a certain level of education because they must read chemical formulas and blend components together.”


Duc notes down instructions for his workers

Duc has employed four other workers to help him on the farm, but he said even though they were good at learning how to run the production line, they were not able to understand all of the procedures and techniques required.

Duc said there were many large investors in the agricultural sector in Vietnam, but they were either not interested in such projects or unwilling to pour their money into more advanced technology. Local families, he said, also often worked independently rather than collaborating to form a production network.

The head of Lam Dong’s Department of Science and Technology, Dr. Le Xuan Tham, said Duc’s mushroom farm was one of the most advanced in Vietnam, with the white mushrooms grown there equal in quality to those imported from Canada.

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