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Vietnamese man turns coconut shoots into novel ornamental plants

Monday, January 21, 2019, 10:36 GMT+7
Vietnamese man turns coconut shoots into novel ornamental plants
An ornamental coconut plant of Nguyen Minh Tri is pictured at his home in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre

A young man from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region has created a new type of decorative plant from the shoots of coconuts as a way to seek buyers for the fruits whose demand has sunk deeply.

The southwestern province of Ben Tre is known as the country’s coconut basket but these days local coconut prices have plummeted to a discouragingly low VND1,500 (6 U.S. cents) per coconut.

Many growers felt no motivation to sell the fruits and simply let them fall from the trees and produce seedlings all across their farms.

The farm of Nguyen Minh Chi’s family had the same fate, causing coconuts to pile up in his front yard and be completely ignored by traders.

While worrying about what to do with them, the 24-year-old man came up with a salvage idea: using coconut shoots as ornamental plants.

Chi began by selecting seedlings with beautiful and strange shapes, and removed rough fibers known as the coir from coconut shells.

Nguyen Minh Chi takes care of a decorative coconut shoot at his house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Minh Chi takes care of a decorative coconut shoot at his house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Minh Chi shows a coconut shoot with roots in water at his house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Minh Chi shows a coconut shoot with roots in water at his house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre

The resultant husk was then carefully smoothed in a way that the shoot was intact.

At first he encountered multiple failures in cultivating coconut seedlings in clay pots as their roots did not grow in the soil he chose.

When the experimentation was successful, he tried growing young coconut plants in a pot of water.

An important step was placing them in a position that would make the plants look pleasantly strange.

Nguyen Minh Tri’s ornamental coconut plants are pictured at his home in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Minh Tri’s ornamental coconut plants are pictured at his home in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
A man looks at a young coconut plant (left) at Nguyen Minh Chi’s house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
A man looks at a young coconut plant (left) at Nguyen Minh Chi’s house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Minh Chi takes care of young coconut plants at his house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Minh Chi takes care of young coconut plants at his house in Ben Tre Province, southwestern Vietnam. Photo: Mau Truong / Tuoi Tre

He said his products received positive reactions from social media users and more or less 200 of them had been sold at prices ranging from several hundred thousand dong (VND100,000 = $4.3) to just over VND1 million ($43) apiece.

He might have more ideas with coconut seedlings in the hope of boosting sales in his hometown, he added.

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