Blooming from the ashes: Vietnam flower village makes ready for Tet

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Nguyen Thi Vinh is taking care of her gerbera crops. The plant is called the ‘Money Flower’ in Vietnam. VIET NAM NEWS

In Tay Tuu village, Bac Tu Liem district, on the outskirts of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, hectares of flowers are waiting to bloom just in time for Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, and many farmers are counting on them for a prosperous start to the new year.

Situated 15km from the city centre, Tay Tuu is one of Hannoi’s famous flower-growing villages, along with Nhat Tan. The history of the flower business here dates back to the 1930s, but it was not until the 1990s that the villagers saw the profitability of the flowers.

According to the local authority, at the height of the business, flowers can generate revenue up to 600 million dong ($26,414) per hectare annually for the farmers. Flower-growing also created more than 500 jobs each year.

But then came the pandemic.

In August 2021, images of Tay Tuu farmers disposing of their withered crops broke the hearts of flower lovers nationwide. Due to the strict social distancing regulations amid the fourth wave in Hanoi, farmers could not sell their products and had to watch their flowers die in vain.

But by the beginning of 2022, as the Tet holiday approaches, the prospects look brighter for the hard-working people of Tay Tuu, a stark contrast to last year.

“Earlier in the pandemic, we could not sell anything”, said Chu Viet Son, an army veteran turned farmer.

“Ever since the policies changed, our business can resume and my wife and I have been busy harvesting flowers and sending them to other provinces like Hai Phong and Hai Duong.”

Despite his descendants having turned to modern careers like IT and pharmacy to make a living, the septuagenarian still clings on to his 2,160sqm growing various kinds of flowers with loce and care, as a way to live a happy life.

Son believes that growing flowers is more profitable than rice.

He said: “For every sao (360sqm) we can harvest 200kg of rice, and that’s about it. With flowers, we can harvest more, and profit more.”

And it’s not just the elders that bought into the flower hype.

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Flowers are watered to retain their freshness before being cut for sale. VIET NAM NEWS

Nguyen Viet Thanh, a 41-year-old farmer, is also working hard to keep his family’s tradition alive.

His daisies are even exported to China.

“The price was higher last year because people grew fewer flowers in fear of the pandemic,” said Thanh.

“This year as businesses start to catch up with demand, if we can sell 3,000 dong ($0.13) per chrysanthemum flower, we can make a good profit.”

Thanh is confident about the profitability of his daisies this season.

He added: “I think the weather is on our side this season. If it keeps being like this until Tet, it is favourable for our flowers.”

But not all flower species get the demand as daisies.

Another farmer, Nguyen Thi Vinh, said that her children refrained from growing the all-time favourite lilies this season, as they fear the pandemic might hamper sales of the already hard-to-grow flower.

“Not many people are going to grow lilies this year, so I think the price will rise sharply,” said Vinh.

Vinh chose to grow gerberas and said that she had to expand her plots from two sào to five sao to keep up with demand.

She said: “During the year, the price for my gerbera is lower, but as Tet nears, people tend to buy gerbera more. I just had a big order for gerberas ready to ship next Monday [January 24].”

Gerbera is called “The Money Flower” in Vietnam, and people believe that it will bring prosperity to the owner. Customers like Nguyen Thu Huong travelled far for gerberas not just for that reason, but also because of the flower’s longevity.

Huong said: “Last year I bought a lot of gerberas, and I still choose them this year to decorate for Tet.”

Despite the pandemic making flower markets much less crowded than usual, Huong believes that flowers will still remain one of the hottest items this holiday season.

“It’s Tet, who wouldn’t want flowers in their house to brighten up the atmosphere?” she added.