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Young Khmer-Vietnamese woman earns high profits from flower "massage"

In the first half of the year, Chal Thy could not succeed but finally was able to learn how to pat and massage flowers so that sweet nectar would be secreted.

Standing next to a table where many products are made from coconut flower nectar, the young woman from Tra Vinh province, Thach Thi Chal Thy, gave detailed introductions about each product.

From coconut flower nectar, Chal Thy develops one or two new products each year.  She said she is going to introduce soya sauce from coconut flower nectar in about 10 months.

Thy said after finishing her training program for master’s degree in food technology, she intended to stay in HCM City to work. Every time she returned to Tra Vinh, she noted that many were unsold, or had or sold at very low prices. Farmers earned only VND2 million for 1,200 coconuts, not high enough to cover their basic needs.

Her parents, who earned the most money when growing rice, decided to shift to growing coconuts, but sales were not good.

“Then I thought that it was  time to return to my hometown to do something to help parents and local people live well with coconuts,” Thy said.

She looked for cultural matches between "coconut kingdoms" over time, and learned about the use of coconut nectar in many countries. She said she wanted coconut nectar to return to her hometown of Tra Vinh, as it is associated with Khmer cultural values.

In 2018, with coconut flower nectar, Chal Thy and her husband decided to start a business in her hometown, setting up a farm called Sokfarm.

At first, she didn’t know anything about coconut flower nectar, so she had to learn about the elements of nectar, processing methods and markets. She visited Thailand to learn about markets, prices and trading methods.

However, she failed in the first six months as the flowers did not give nectar. Later, she learned how to pat and massage flowers so that they gave the nectar she wanted.

After that, Chal Thy and her husband set to work on processing. One of them was in charge of condensing the nectar, while the other was in charge of designing machines to make products.

In June 2019, they began building a workshop processing products from coconut flower nectar. Sokfarm has reported an annual 200-percent growth rate.

They experienced many tough days to market products – introducing nectar at domestic and overseas trade fairs and attending innovation competitions. Coconut flower nectar is good for human’s health, especially those who suffer from high blood pressure and vegans, because the nectar is from plants (coconut). It has become trendy around the world.

The treasure of Tra Vinh

According to Chal Thy, Sokfarm has two hectares of coconut growing area and 18 hectares grown in cooperation with local people (30 households). Six hectares are producing nectar with an output of 1.2 tons per day. Every month, she puts 30-35 tons of nectar materials into production.

Ninety percent of products are consumed domestically, while the remaining 10 percent are exported to Japan and the Netherlands.

Tra Vinh is the second largest coconut growing area in Vietnam, just after Ben Tre. When coconut prices are high, farmers earn VND500,000 from selling seven coconut trees, and when the prices go down, they earn only VND200,000 only. 

Using the seven trees for nectar exploitation, they have a revenue of VND2-3 million a month. 

One coconut flower can give nectar for 25 consecutive days, 20-30 liters of nectars in total. One tree has 13 flowers each year. As such, the income farmers can expect from growing coconut for nectar is 3-4 times higher.

Growing coconuts is also a solution to climate change. If  salinity is too high, fruits will drop, but flowers won’t be affected.

There are 35 people employed at their workshop.

Thai An

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