Dozens of farmers in the central city of Da Nang have been able to earn good incomes from growing flowers on unused land pieces at ‘golden’ locations while beautifying the hub at the same time.
Flower farms seen along such streets such as April 30, Luong Nhu Hoc, Nguyen Huu Tho and Huynh Tan Phat, located in Hai Chau District, or on unused land plots in residential areas in Son Tra and Cam Le Districts, are now ready to bloom in time for Tet (Lunar New Year).
Before and during Tet, which will kick off on February 8, flowers and fruits are traditionally used for decorations, with festive preparations usually beginning around one week before the official Tet date and lingering for another week after that.
The flower beds have created stunning spectacles for the land lots, which are worth several billion dong apiece (VND1 billion = US$44,076).
Phan Van Huy and his family are currently tending to their flower farm, located on a 700-square-meter land plot on Luong Nhu Hoc Street in Hai Chau District in downtown city.
The deserted property has been zoned for a project.
Seeing that it is a huge waste to leave the land vacant, he sought permission from the local government to grow flowers on it.
“My initiative is warmly embraced by both the land owner and the government as flower beds add color and fragrance to the cityscape while the unoccupied property will be maintained as well,” Huy added.
The man has high expectation that his 1,000 tubs of daisies and a small amount of lilies and marigolds, intended for the Tet market, will earn him VND50 million ($2,203) if the climate is on his side.
“The model has spared us land rents and transport fees. The prime location has also facilitated sales considerably,” Huy explained.
The business has landed his family a handsome income over the past five years.
Such farms require painstaking care and acute awareness of weather changes, which can make or break their crops.
As the “golden” land plots are situated next to arteries, T-junctions or crossroads, these growers do not need to rent stalls in Tet flower markets to display their produce for the year’s biggest festive occasion.
Nguyen Van Tri, who has been engaged in the farming model for more than six years now, is happy that his 2,000 pots of daisies, housed in a 600-square-meter land piece at the April 30-Nguyen Huu Tho T-junction, are thriving well.
A job as a construction worker earns him unstable wages, so he has grown flowers on the deserted plot of land every Tet season to earn a considerable additional income.
Tri is also expecting a bumper crop as many have placed orders for his daisies at good prices.
Meanwhile, Ho Van Chien, whose 4,000-square-meter flower farm is part of a nice plot on April 30 Street, used to reside on the street before being relocated by the government in 2006 to make the most out of the land bank.
He and several other households then sought permission to germinate flowers on their former land pieces, which remain vacant so far.
“We will return the property to their owners as soon as construction work starts,” Chien asserted.
He added that several of his regular outlet owners in central provinces including Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, have partnered with him or made early orders for his floral products.
“The outlet owners will buy all my flowers whether the crops are good or poor as previously agreed,” Chien added.
According to Tran Van Ly, deputy head of the Farmer’s Association in Hoa Cuong Bac Ward, where many of the prime location plots are located, a number of residents were relocated back in 2005.
With work yet to start on multiple housing projects, causing the land to deteriorate and subjecting it to serious pollution, the ward administration came up with borrowing five hectares of land for farmers to grow flowers and vegetables on.
The area was later expanded to 11 hectares, with more than 70 households engaged in the lucrative model, Ly added.
Inspired by Hoa Cuong Bac Ward’s early success, Da Nang Farmers’ Association sought approval from the municipal People’s Committee in lending vacant plots across the city to farmers in late 2008.
“The association has acted as surety for the farmers’ land loans, while the farmers have pledged to strictly conform to environmental protection regulations,” Nguyen Kim Dung, deputy chair of the municipal Farmers’ Association, said.
Before the model was approved, the deserted land plots looked unsightly and were particularly prone to pollution.
Land owners only need to give a notice of three to six months and the association will request the farmers to return the plots to them, Dung added.
Though the model is cost-effective and profitable, participating growers are constantly on tenderhooks over their inevitable eviction.
Dung added that his association has offered farmers orientation in moving their flower farms to other areas, which will be zoned into Da Nang’s future flower village.
Nguyen Phu Ban, head of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, revealed that the city has zoned four areas totaling approximately 100,000 hectares in Hoa Vang District for the cultivation of flowers and greens.
“The department will offer incentives to farmers including bank loans and training to facilitate their relocation to the future flower village, and adopt measures to better promote the city’s floral varieties to other cities and provinces,” he stressed.