Ma Phu Cuong has spent years searching for a way to keep the thousands of dragon fruit buds his family discards from their farm each year from going to waste.
“My family grows dragon fruit for a living. When the dragon fruit has buds, we keep the strong and the big ones because they can grow into flowers. We have to throw out the small ones,” Cuong said.
Cuong was born and raised in the south-central province of Binh Thuan, the country’s dragon fruit hub where his family has operated a dragon fruit farm since long before he was born.
“I always hope to make the most of the buds instead of wasting them.”
Cuong, a student at the University of Technology (HuTech) in Ho Chi Minh City, was explaining the problem to classmates Tran Le My Quynh and Truong Hoang Phuc when the idea to use the buds for making tea struck him.
The trio teamed up and began spending all their free time in the university’s laboratory, tinkering with the formula for the dragon fruit bud tea and making sure each layer of taste was perfect.
Cuong knew he had finally hit gold when he finally had a chemical analysis done on the tea.
“Dragon fruit buds contain numerous nutrients such as anthocyanin, tannin, and flavonoid which have high antioxidant effects, stabilize cholesterol, prevent cardiovascular disease, and improve the immune system’s function,” he said, citing the test results of his sample product.
|(Left to right) Cuong, Quynh and Phuc present about their product at a local talent contest. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
After another six months, Cuong and his team invited a group of friends and professors from their university to taste the tea and give their opinions on its taste.
“We managed to adjust the flavour and packaging based on people’s comments to make it tastier and easier to use,” said Cuong.
The group chose the brand name “Duc Thuan” for their tea, taking the Vietnamese word Duc for “ethic” and adding “Thuan” to represent Cuong’s hometown of Binh Thuan.
“This represents our commitment to promote ethics in business and to bring the best products to customers,” he explained.
At the end of October 2018, Cuong, Phuc, and Quynh present Duc Thuan tea at a local talent contest where they won the funding they need from investors to launch the product.
According to Cuong, the project isn’t about tea. It’s about creating value from waste.
“I have a dream that I can find ways to make more dragon fruit products. There will be no more wasting,” said Cuong.