When it comes to seedless lime in Vietnam, farmers usually think of a man with a nickname of Ha Lime. He was the first person to grow seedless limes in the North of Vietnam, Hung Yen province.
Nguyen Huu Ha, 40 years old, now has more than 10ha of Persian limes in Hung Yen province. This province is also the kingdom of longan in Vietnam with an area of 3,000 ha.
Seedless lime farming helps him generate more than VND 5 billion (US$218,000) a year. In addition, his farm provides regular work for more than 30 people with a stable monthly salary.
Seedless limes from Ha’s farm are now available in dozens of super markets and supply chains in Vietnam. Also, he commits to providing customers with clean farming products with minimal chemical inputs.
Since 2016 he has connected with lime growers across the country to form Phu Quy farming Co-operatives to promote fresh lime production and consumption. He provided growers seedlings, farming techniques and also sought markets for their products.
Ha now has 60 ‘satellite’ farms of seedless lime in Vietnam with a total area of 120ha across 12 provinces. He is also growing more than 1,000 bonsai lime trees for the Lunar New Year Festival. These bonsai trees helped him earn VND billions extra last year.
“Some customers prefer strange and unique ornamental trees for Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) rather than traditional ones like kumquat or peach,” Ha said.
Before growing limes, he used to be a fruit wholesaler, a litchi grower and a guest worker in Russia. “Longans and litchis are both specialty fruits in Vietnam, but farmers usually fall into the scenario of bumper crop and dropping price. I wanted to make something different, at least, a different fruit to grow on my land,” Ha added.
Persian limes, also known as seedless limes, are a citrus fruit species of hybrid origin, known only in cultivation. The Persian lime is a triploid cross between key lime and lemon.
Local limes usually take 15 months before harvesting, and produce just 10 – 20kg per tree. However, Persian limes take only 3 – 5 months until they’re ready to harvest with a capacity of 100kg per year.
The farmer uses soybean powder as a fertilizer to provide nutrition for the plants and help fend off diseases. On average, a kilo of seedless limes is worth about VND 20,000, while the production cost is just VND 5,000.
“In clean agricultural production, it’s so important to connect products with customers who have demand for them”, Ha emphasized.
Ha remembered the first time he met Tran Quan, director of a chain of food stores of Sea Wolf. “I told Quan that I had what he wanted. I became a supplier to Quan’s store after that. There’s no time to produce and then wait for customers to come. Finding and approaching customers is an important step for farmers nowadays. I also want to bring seedless lime in Vietnam to the world,” Ha said.
Social networks like Facebook also helped to connect Ha with other farmers and customers. In one of his recent posts, Ha took photos in which he stands next to fruitful lime trees, smiling brightly. “I love and live with it!” the photo’s caption says.