Mr. Sau always gives off positive energy so no one would have guessed that he had had colon cancer. In all he had three operations, lost a portion of his intestine and his family had to sell their land to pay for his medical treatment. Fortunately, he overcame this serious disease, but his treatment left his family with serious economic hardship. He had no work and no income.
He began to regularly participate in YWAM Mercy’s agricultural training and economic development activities. He learned to see agricultural work as a business. And when his family’s economic situation stabilized, he decide to register to start an off-season tomato model.
Despite this being his first time planting off-season tomatoes, Mr. Sau boldly planted 1,000 plants on a small plot of rich soil.
Mr. Sau shared, “This is the first time I am directly involved in new crop models, but, because I have participated in previous trainings, I am very confident in the projects that YWAM Mercy has implemented so I have bravely accepted this new challenge. YWAM Mercy’s consulting team has a very deep knowledge in agriculture, and I trust their recommendation about varieties to plant and know they can help me with the process.”
Off-season tomato cultivation requires farmers to carefully tend to the plants. Every day Mr. Sau had to check each vine individually. If he saw any disease he uprooted it immediately to keep it from spreading to the whole garden.
He has learned that good soil is the most important thing to grow tomatoes successfully. The soil needs to be sandy to retain moisture and must be regularly fertilized so the seedlings take root and and the vines fruit well. He always keeps the tomatoes cool, carefully tending the fruit to guard against the harmful dew at night. He works hard weeding, digging, and binding branches to support fruit. After each heavy rain, Mr. Sau will shake each tomato tree to remove water and then spray to avoid fungus growth.
Tomato growing in the off-season challenges even the most seasoned farmer. But Mr. Sau’s tomato garden attracted the attention of other farmers in his village and they encouraged each other to visit and study his model.
At harvest, tomatoes in this season bring a high profit. Mr. Sau’s family harvested about 700 kg of tomatoes, earning more than 10 million VND (about US$423). He shared that the recent COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected agricultural output and tomatoes brought about the highest profits ever: 2-3 times the normal price. Every time he harvested, his wife brought his tomatoes to a nearby industrial zone to sell at a higher price than they are able to get in their village.
In addition, customers can see that the fruit and stalks indicate a clean, locally grown tomato, not one imported from China, so customers do not hesitate to spend a higher amount to buy clean, quality agricultural products.
Mr. Sau has been farming all his life, making his living from agriculture. Each year he now earns 100 million dong (about US$4237) from high yield crops such as kohlrabi, cabbage to other commercial varieties. With the tomatoes, he has good crop diversification reduces his risk from any one crop failing.
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