Many farmers have their own laboratories and hire well-trained technicians and agricultural engineers.

Nowadays, nearly 90 percent of the 58 plant tissue culture laboratories in Da Lat are funded by farmers and private investors. Each of these facilities produces an average of 500,000 seedlings annually.

Farmer directors

Truong Duc Phu is a farmer who has attached himself to a flower growing career since the 1980s. Six years ago, after hearing that using the plant tissue culture method in breeding can effectively produce standard seedlings, Phu and his wife invested in a private tissue culture laboratory at home that began with only two transplant rooms.

Now, each year, his facility can supply the domestic market with about two million flower seedlings, including anthuriums, chrysanthemums, gerberas, carnations, and tulips, in addition to strawberries. With current prices ranging from 700 dong to 5,000 dong per seedling, Phu can make an annual profit of VND3-4 billion ($144,230 – 192,300).

To produce a sufficient amount of seedlings, Phu employs four engineers and 20 senior technicians at a salary of VND3.5-5 million a month at his laboratory. His seed farm named PH, located in Ward 11 of Da Lat, covers an area of half a hectare, including plant nurseries, a parent tree area, workshops and a row of transplant rooms, which are all clean and spacious, thanks to good investment.

“Up to now, I’ve invested over 2 billion dong for each separate room with 12 tissue culture propagation cabinets”, Phu estimated.

Similar to Phu is Le Van Hai, a farmer living in the agricultural zone of Thai Phien in Ward 13 who is now the director of a plant tissue culture laboratory. In his two-story house built on an area of 40 square meters, a whole story is used as a transplant room for propagation.

With three engineers and a technician, Hai’s laboratory annually produces about 100,000 seedlings of 25 different types of chrysanthemums. Pointing to the two propagation cabinets and some other bio-chemical equipment, he happily explained, “These are my farming tools. Thanks to them, I and some fellow villagers have gradually become modern farmers. Our lives are also much better.”

Happiness in working for a farmer

“Through working for a farmer, I have gradually developed a greater love for and stronger attachment to Da Lat’s agriculture”, said Phan Thi Ngoc Hien, a student pursuing a bachelor of biology while working for Truong Duc Phu.

Hien added that working for a farmer has enriched her experience in farming and out-of-school knowledge. She now dreams of opening her own plant tissue culture lab in the future.

Nguyen Thi My Tham, who graduated from the Biological Faculty of Da Lat University and has five years of experience working in nurseries of farmers, shared similar thoughts, “Biology graduates are not always necessarily able to work in institutes, universities or academic agencies. The satisfactory working environment as well as appropriate salary and allowances in farmers’ labs can bring us stability.”

Nguyen Thi Tuong Vi, an official of Lam Dong farmers’ union and director of the programme “Applying plant tissue culture techniques in producing seedlings”, affirmed that most cadres working in plant tissue culture laboratories are experienced graduates and technicians with high qualifications.

However, Vi also proposed that “the government should establish analysis and test centers to evaluate the quality of seedlings and effectively support farmers who are producing seeds using plant tissue culture techniques”.

Tuoi Tre - April 21, 2012