Mrs. Tham (65), of Hoai Duc, is typical of farmers who participate in our YWAM Mercy training courses.
She has always farmed entirely based on the experience handed down to her, without any formal training. She cultivated crops, raised animals and managed the family finances in this traditional way, using a lot of time and effort, but not achieving much profit.
At harvest, she was unsure how to calculate a fair price or how to find a market to sell her crops. So she suffered many losses.
Tham also shared that in the past, she did not know how to use pesticides properly. She used many kinds, which didn’t stop the worms from growing and also harmed the vegetables.
In 2009, when YWAM Mercy came to her village, local leaders told her about the opportunity to learn better methods. Mrs. Tham signed up to participate in the various activities YWAM Mercy organized.
Even though Tham was not so young anymore, she actively participated in agricultural, economic management, and family management training courses, as well as activities such as onsite consulting in farming practices, and study tours of successful models, Communication Nights and such.
Now, Ms. Tham has accumulated for herself advanced farming skills and knowledge that she never had before.
Mrs. Tham’s family now owns 3,600 square meters of arable land and two big cows. Mrs. Tham alternately cultivates rice and seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and corn. She uses any grass growing in the field to feed her cows.
Everyday, Tham and her husband get up very early to go out to the fields together. They cut grass and corn leaves for the cows. Mrs. Tham now knows that early morning and late afternoon is the best time to treat the fields against white butterflies and jumping insects.
Mrs. Tham and her husband bring corn leaves home for the cows
Mrs. Tham sees now that she knows a lot of techniques for good farming. She said that this is due to her life-long career in agriculture, plus a desire to learn from from television, books and especially YWAM Mercy’s agricultural training courses.
Mrs. Tham explains how to tie the tomato plants on the truss to avoid falling fruit.
In training, YWAM Mercy’s consultant advised Tham on safe pesticide spraying techniques, so she knows now how to apply them effectively and has switched to using biological pesticides to reduce toxins for her own health, the health of her customers, as well as environmental protection.
In addition to developing agricultural techniques, she also learned more about market economics, family financial management, and the agricultural market. She knows how to find the right market for her products, sell them at a good price, and record revenues through each season, and now her revenue increases each month.
Up to now, Mrs. Tham has earned a profit of over 100 million dong (US$4,348) from farming and 70 million (US$3,043) from livestock raising each year. That money she used to repair her house, help her children, and accumulate savings in the bank.
Tham is not young, and she has experienced many difficulties. The village where Mrs. Tham and her family live does not have good conditions like other areas nearby, but thanks to her eagerness to learn and hard work she has become a good and profitable farmer.
Mrs. Tham and her family, local leaders and YWAM Mercy Staff
Tham wants to spread her knowledge to surrounding farmers and encourage them to have the same learning spirit.
We hope that there will be more farmers like Mrs. Tham, who won’t let age be a barrier to learning new things, and want to change their thinking and methods to become better farmers in this innovative society.
Even though I can make three to four hundred thousand dong (US$13-17) a day, I am willing to take a day off to attend training because I have gained a lot of useful knowledge, which is invaluable. And participating in the training also helps me be more active in my learning. Every time I go to training, there are materials leading me to do further research at home.