“Miracle Vegetable Village” of Japan in Dalat city
Apr 23rd 2014.
Two Japanese farmers have brought the vegetable planting model from Japan’s richest village to Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province.
Kawakami Mura village in Minamisaku District, Nagano Prefecture, to the west of Tokyo is called by the Japanese people a “Miracle Village”. This used to be barren land, the poorest area in Japan in the 1960s-70s. Thanks to its cultivation of lettuce, Kawakami Mura is considered today the country’s richest village.
In 2012, Mr. Hironosi Tsuchiya, Director of the HT Capital Investment Fund in Vietnam, after several visits to Da Lat City, realized that this is a fertile land, with suitable climate for year-round cultivation of vegetables. He also felt that local farmers, despite their hard work, did not earn a high enough income.
He thought of Kawakami Mura village, where the natural conditions and climate are far behind Da Lat. Every year villagers can farm for only four months because in the remaining eight months the temperatures drop to negative 20 degrees Celsius. However, the average income of households there is up to $250,000 per year.
Returning home, Hironosi Tsuchiya paid a visit to the village of Kawakami Mura, to introduce local farmers to Da Lat and to call for them to go to Da Lat to grow vegetables.
Two farmers, the owners of the Lacue Company in the village, Masahito, 34 and Takaya Hanaoka, 35 decided to explore Da Lat. After the survey, they quickly partnered with a local business to form the An Phu Lacue joint venture to plant lettuce in Da Nghit village, Lat Commune, Lac Duong District.
The working principle here is strictly in accordance with farming techniques applied in the village of Kawakami Mura. Fertilizers and pesticides are not the same brands with those used in the Japanese village but the components must be similar.
Takaya Hanaoka says that in 1980, a village chief called for people in his village to plant vegetables under the general standards of the whole village. Those who broke the rules would be banned from production. The village has a TV channel to inform villagers of daily market conditions and guide them in farming techniques. Vegetables produced at the village can be eaten fresh right in the garden.
Earlier in February, the company planted 13 vegetable varieties on an area of 5,000m2, with the U.S. lettuce variety as the major crop. After 70 days, the first 3,000 American lettuce plants were harvested and sold to supermarkets in HCM City.
The company has 13 hectares of land, with eight currently under cultivation, and15 workers. After the first harvest, An Phu Lacue is regularly planting 20,000 vegetable of all kinds each week.
For Japanese, the harvest and post-harvest preservation are extremely important. In the village of Kawakami Mura, farmers harvest lettuce from 3am to 6am and keep vegetables in cold storage at natural harvest temperatures. They adhere to the rule that vegetables not be harvested at any other time of the day, or in hot weather, a principle which AnPhu Lacue also observes. Harvested lettuce is transported to storage in refrigerated vehicles.
At An Phu Lacue farm, two Japanese farmers use computer software for farm management.
Mr. Takaya Hanaoca, Director of AnPhu Lacue says the company may export its products to Singapore and Japan. An Phu Lacue currently sells American lettuce to supermarkets for over VND20,000, who resell it for over VND30,000 ($1.50). Hanaoca says this price is not suitable for the majority of consumers in Vietnam. An American lettuce in supermarkets in Japan is sold for $2.50.
Hanaoca says that his company is quite happy to transfer its techniques and farming processes to Vietnamese farmers. In the future the company will hold a program to send Da Lat farmers to Japan to learn cultivation techniques from the village of Kawakami Mura.
By Na Son