Doan Ngoc Minh Thuy, 29, has used traditional methods and modern technology to extract essential oils from agricultural by-products with 70 types bearing natural aromas.
Thuy was a biotechnology major at the HCMC University of Natural Sciences. After graduating in 2012, she returned to the homeland with the wish of improving living conditions in the poor land in the border area.
One day, Thuy visited a tangerine farm in Lai Vung, Dong Thap province and found that half of the fruit had been eliminated to gather strength for fruits with higher quality. She picked up a tangerine, looked at it and thought it was a big waste.
She believed that she could create attar from the rejected tangerines.
After a period of research, Thuy set up a production process which she described ‘both traditional and modern’ to produce natural essential oil. With each tangerine, Thuy extracted essential oils with traditional steaming method. Next, the essential oil was cleaned by fractional distillation technology with machines that Thuy ordered from domestic enterprises.
With each tangerine, Thuy extracted essential oils with traditional steaming method. Next, the essential oil was cleaned by fractional distillation technology with machines that Thuy ordered from domestic enterprises.
Encouraged by initial achievements from the essential oil from Lai Vung tangerine, Thuy went on to create attar from other kinds of plants, including grapefruit peel, cajuput leaf, lotus rice, rosemary leaf and mint leaf.
To date, Thuy can master the technology to create 70 types of essential oil, each of which bears typical aroma.
However, there exists a big gap between ‘mastering technology’ and making products on a commercial scale which can be sold in the market.
“I was trained in technology and I lack knowledge for business, so selling products in the market is a big problem for me,” she said. “My products are made of agricultural by-products, do many people may have doubts about the quality of my products."
Luckily, Thuy participated in the ‘Startup projects’ competition organized in 2016 and received support from the competition’s organization board. The competition helped her approach the market and attracted first clients.
Later, with support from the Business Research and Business Support Center (BSA) her young project could participate in the ‘Green Market Day’ program.
This is an initiative of BSA which aims to connect startups with the market. Startups’ agricultural products can be displayed and they can connect with clients every Saturday and Sunday.
Thuy has cooperated with other startups to improve her business. She designed different product packages (combo) for customers’ best choices. She is introducing the products of the startups in the same network for clients.
After reaping initial results, Thuy has been expanding production. Natural essential oil with Huong Dong Thap brand are now available at convenience stores, healthcare centers and hospitals in Hanoi, HCMC and Da Nang.
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