(BGO) - After years of working abroad, 40-year-old Nguyen Van Hoi has brought lotus cultivation to his hometown - Dong Phu village, Xuan Phu commune, Yen Dung district, Bac Giang province.
Overcoming many difficulties when starting a business, he established Bao Ngoc Agricultural Trade and Service Cooperative and successfully processed many lotus products that are sold well in the market.
A white lotus pond.
Taking a group of guests to visit the lotus production and processing model of Bao Ngoc Cooperative, Nguyen Manh Chien, Chairman of the Yen Dung district Farmers' Association, said that Bao Ngoc Cooperative has developed the first and largest lotus production model in Bac Giang province. Learning from this model, many farmers and cooperatives inside and outside the district have purchased seeds and successfully planted them, getting economic efficiency many times higher than that of other crops.
Just arriving in the beginning of the village, the visitors heard the sounds of water pumps in the field. Despite cold weather, many groups of workers were still immersed in the water to harvest lotus tubers. Many people were surprised, because they thought that planting lotus is only for seeds and flowers, and lotus cultivation is often seen in Dong Thap Muoi in the Mekong Delta or somewhere far away. Few knew that lotus was being grown right in their hometown.
The "Bao Ngoc Lotus Tuber Tea" product.
As the guests wanted to learn how to harvest lotus, Hoi said that the lotus tubers are brittle and fragile. As lotus is planted in a deep field, so it is necessary to use a high-pressure water jet to separate the tubers from the mud. Harvesting tubers is the most difficult stage, because workers have to soak in muddy water. In return, their income is very high, about 500,000 VND ($21.3) per day per person or even higher.
The eye-catching white lotus tubers form sections of 50-80 cm, which look like a chain of sausages, are loaded on specialized plastic containers to be transported to a sorting and preliminary processing point right in the beginning of the village. Here, they are washed, packed and delivered to traders or processed into tea. Particularly, lotus tubers for farming with the surrounding mud layers are sealed in styrofoam or put in cold storage.
Nguyen Van Hoi with freshly harvested lotus tubers.
While urging workers to quickly sort and pack products, Hoi said: "The cooperative is harvesting the remaining winter lotus area. The lotus output in this crop is not high, only about 1.5 tons per day, not enough for the market demand. However, the prices are higher than the summer crop. Currently, the price of first-class lotus tubers ranges from 30,000-35,000 VND per kg; second-class tubers from 12,000-15,000 VND per kg; lotus seed 50,000 VND per kg. After deducting expenses, the cooperative get more than 30% in profit”.
In addition to fresh lotus, the cooperative also processes tea from lotus tubers and leaves. Oanh said that tea is made from first-class lotus tubers. Every 6 kg of fresh tubers turn out 1 kg of tea after 48 hours of drying.
After taking guests to visit the production and processing area, Hoi invited them to enjoy lotus tuber tea.
According to Hoi, there are two types of lotus for tubers, usually called sweet lotus and fragrant lotus (white flowers), with two crops per year. The price of sweet lotus is always 5,000 VND per kg higher than that of fragrant lotus. Lotus is easy to grow and less susceptible to pests and diseases. Farmers just need to make the soil carefully, use manure, and almost don't have to use pesticides.
Workers process the fresh lotus tubers.
From the first few acres of lotus with one crop, in 2022, the cooperative planted more than 60 acres of lotus, with total production of 550 tons, earning more than 13 billion VND (554,440 USD) in revenue and over 4 billion VND (170,597) in profit. The cooperative created jobs and income for dozens of workers.
In early 2023, Hoi rented an additional 20 acres of fields in Bac Ninh, bringing the total lotus area to more than 64 acres. Recently, the farmers’ associations of the district and Xuan Phu commune have supported Bao Ngoc Cooperative in completing the quality registration dossier for the "Bao Ngoc Lotus Tuber Tea" product to be recognized as an OCOP (One Commune One Product) product in 2023. For the remaining products, the cooperative will register for the OCOP program in the near future.