Thai Binh woman quits high-flying career to launch herb farm

A woman in the northern province of Thai Binh has turned a wild, overgrown grass field into a lucrative herb garden.

Thai Binh woman quits high-flying career to launch herb farm
Bui Thi Duyen takes care of her herbal plant garden in Thai Thuy District, Thai Binh Province. VNA/VNS Photo 

Bui Thi Duyen, 33, lives in Thuy Van Commune, Thai Thuy District. She gave up her work in bustling Singapore to return home and start her farming business.

In 2011, after graduating from the Foreign Language University under the Hanoi National University, Duyen worked for an online English teaching centre.

In 2014, she moved to work in hospitality in Singapore.

While Duyen's life and salary in Singapore were a dream come true, her time in the city-state inspired her to launch her own start-up.

“I realised that the quality of Vietnam's agricultural products were not inferior to other countries in Southeast Asia, but they have no foothold or have not yet approached the market in Singapore,” she said.

After a year working in Singapore, in 2015, Duyen returned home and started experimenting with growing mushrooms.

"I wanted to take advantage of the agricultural products surplus," she said, explaining why she started with mushrooms.

Without experience, Duyen struggled at first.

"Like other young people when I started a business but failed, I felt confused and depressed, especially when I had started in a field I hadn't studied at school and started a business entirely from self-learning," she said.

In late 2015, she moved to HCM City to open a beauty spa with organic products.

Her family and friends thought that after that failure, her organic farming dream was dead.

But the 27-year-old was still full of determination, enthusiasm and hope, so she continued to study and gain experience.

In 2017, when her life and business in HCM City was stable, she again decided to return to her hometown, to the amazement of her relatives.

Friends advised her against the move, but she was determined to win success in the place she was born and raised. 

Turning wild fields into herbal gardens

She set up a project to methodically develop herbal plants, from seedlings and care techniques to consumption.

After successful pilot implementation in home gardens and households in the village, in 2019, Duyen expanded.

She named her project 'Got-a-farm', with the hope of turning it into a sustainable agricultural model that could supply, process and sell spice plants and medicinal herbs.

 

“Farm development is associated with supporting local people to develop their livelihoods in their own fields,” she said.

Duyen said at first, she only intended to grow some organic medicinal herbs to make dried leaf products for baths for family members.

But after posting the results online, many people supported her, so she decided to expand the model of organic medicinal herbs.

She doesn't use plant protection drugs to kill weeds, insecticides or chemical fertilisers, but uses grass manure and straw with yeast for the soil.

“So production costs are almost zero,” said Duyen.

Working with the farm from the beginning, Vu Thi Van from Thuy Van Commune, Thai Thuy District, said that when she first came to the area, the grass was as tall as her.

"Everyone worried. But when we had ideas and started to work, the medicinal herbs growing area stabilised gradually,” Van said.

Currently, the farm grows a variety of medicinal herbs and creates products such as peppermint essential oil and aromatic leaf products.

“The products are good for health,” Van said.

After two years, 'Got-a-farm' has expanded to five gardens in the districts of Thai Thuy, Dong Hung, Kien Xuong and Quynh Phu, creating stable jobs for local people.

Duyen said her organic production model was for medicinal herbs, but in the future, she would apply it to rice, the main agricultural crop of Thai Binh Province.

Deputy Secretary of the Thai Binh Provincial Youth Union Dinh Thi Hoan said Duyen's start-up model had economic potential and had contributed to the start-up movement in the local agricultural sector.

“Duyen is a creative example in the youthful start-up movement in Thai Binh,” said Hoan.

In 2020, Duyen won the consolation prize of a provincial youth creative start-up contest.

On March 26, she was one of 90 young people honoured by the provincial Youth Union on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union. VNS

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