A young man in Tuyen Quang Province in northern Vietnam has carved out a successful business and provided jobs for locals out of beekeeping.
Tran Xuan Phong, 31, of An Khang Commune, has made the most of his father’s 150 beehives to become a Vietnamese-dong billionaire (VND1 billion ~ US$47,000).
His farm now earns him around VND4 billion ($188,271) a year and provides stable jobs for local youths.
After failing to get into college, Phong was set on building his own business out of his family’s long-standing bee farm.
In 2002, his father handed over 150 honey beehives.
The young man encountered immense difficulty at first.
Lacking experience and knowledge of bee caretaking, he was constantly stung by the insects.
Phong also suffered heavy losses as the hives got sick and died en masse.
His father and him sold off most of their cattle and livestock to remedy the situation.
The success story
Undaunted, Phong traveled to many provinces in search of a cure.
He then bought new queen bees and rebuilt his hives.
Despite repeated failures, in 2005, Phong boldly borrowed from a local bank to buy more queen bees and material.
Realizing that local bees are not very productive and do not yield good quality honey, Phong was determined to breed two species together to create a premium one.
After traveling across the country, he decided to breed an Italian variety with his domestic bees to create a new, better quality hybrid.
As his hives quickly expanded, Phong took his insects to other provinces for pollen during different flowering seasons.
In 2008, he signed a contract for beekeeping and honey distribution with Dak Lak Bee Co., a Vietnamese firm. His products have since sold particularly well.
Phong’s farm is currently home to 1,700 beehives, which produce over 100 tons of honey per year.
He earns around VND2 billion ($94,135) in profit each year and provides stable jobs for many young people.
Phong Tho Cooperative
Phong also founded the Phong Tho Cooperative, which gathers over 20 beekeeping households.
His cooperative’s honey products have been sold in many provinces and exported to the U.S.
The cooperative earns over VND16 billion ($753,083) a year and creates jobs for more than 20 locals.
Phong is currently working to expand his hives, improve honey quality, and build a trademark for his products.
The entrepreneur is also breeding queen bees, which he will sell to other households so that everyone can access high-quality bees.
“I’m also working on a plan to allow honey produced in Tuyen Quang and other northern provinces to be exported directly from Hai Phong Port, which means going without an intermediary company and improving beekeepers’ income,” Phong shared.
Phong is one of the 150 rural young entrepreneurs nationwide who were honored at the 2014 Luong Dinh Cua Awards.
The awards, named after Luong Dinh Cua, who was an eminent Vietnamese agriculturalist, were conferred on Friday and Saturday in Hanoi.
According to the organizer, the 150 outstanding rural entrepreneurs honored this year generate revenue from VND100 million to VND28 billion (up to $1.32 million) a year.
They have also provided steady jobs for 1,217 people, as well as thousands of seasonal jobs.
This year’s conferees, aged from 18 to 35, included 141 males and nine females. Twenty-four of them were from ethnic minorities.
Van Tan Thanh Tung, of Phu Yen Province in central Vietnam, earns VND28 billion ($1.32 million) a year with his aquatic farming, and provides jobs for 30 people.
The awards, in their 9th year, are handed out by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union’s Central Board to honor youths in rural areas for their outstanding social-economic contributions.