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2023-12-11 11:01

The IT engineer, Duong Hien Tu found a connection with organic agriculture

Duong Hien Tu is an IT engineer and CEO of An Phu Farm which is the largest organic food store chain in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He found a passion for organic agriculture.

Finding a connection with organic agriculture

Graduating from the University of Science and Technology in Da Nang in 2005 with a degree in information technology, engineer Duong Hien Tu (originally from Dien Phong commune, Dien Ban town, Quang Nam province) quickly found a stable job in the IT field and worked in this industry for many years. It was not until 2014, during a trip to South Korea to visit an organic farm and attend a course on organic agriculture, that the idea of professional organic farming took shape in the mind of this young man.

After the visit to the organic food farm in South Korea, engineer Duong Hien Tu could not help but ponder why they prospered in agriculture while his homeland did not. This led to the question how local farmers could rise and prosper from their meager plots of land in the Central Highlands region. Since then, Duong Hien Tu found his passion for organic agriculture.


From an IT Engineer to the CEO of one of the largest organic food store chains intheCentral Highlands regionofVietnam

With the determination to prosper from his homeland, IT engineer Duong Hien Tu decided to leave the IT field and embark on a journey in organic agriculture. In the early days of starting his agricultural venture on a 5,000m² plot in Dien Thang Nam commune, Dien Ban town, where he raised pigs, poultry, and organic vegetables, this young man faced numerous challenges, from production to marketing, as he had not yet established effective marketing connections with partners.

Recalling the early days of his organic agriculture startup, Duong Hien Tu shared that “Initially, the most challenging part for me is the decision to leave my software engineering job and start the venture in the field of agriculture. At that time, my family was against this decision, but with the determination to help prosper my homeland, I managed to convince them”.

Since then, with the support and encouragement of his parents and wife, he began organic farming on the family's land plot. After a period of trial, he produced his first organic agricultural products. However, the challenge of marketing these products arose because, in 2014, the concept of organic food was still unfamiliar to consumers. Additionally, he had not yet established partnerships with marketing partners.

Struggling to find a market for his products, Duong Hien Tu decided to take matters into his own hands. At the end of 2015, he boldly opened a retail store to sell the products from his farm, naming it An Phu Farm. After actively participating in farmers' markets and promoting his products himself. The initial customers were his friends and family, gradually, the organic products in his farm gained the trust and preference of consumers in Da Nang. Thereby, An Phu Farm had a chain of seven stores selling organic food in three central provinces: Da Nang, Tam Ky, and Quang Ngai.


With a commitment to"qualityassurance" and putting the farmers at the core, An Phu Farm has achievedgreatsuccess

"Understanding the plight of the farmers, who face low prices during the harvest season and vice versa when prices are high, I decided to open a store to display and sell my products. At the same time, I aimed to provide a stable income for the people, allowing them to have a source of income depending on the market or weather. Until now, I have engaged more than 100 households in organic farming, and I have two of my own farms: one in Mang Den town with an area of 4 hectares, and one in Hoa Phu commune, Hoa Vang district, with an area of 3 hectares," added Mr. Tu.

To achieve the current success, Mr. Tu shared: "To gain customers' trust, I must prioritize product quality. Even if my products are more expensive than others in the market, when the quality convinces consumers, they are willing to spend their money on my products. Additionally, I regularly organize trips for store employees to visit the farms to experience the production process of the products they sell in the store. This allows our staff to advise customers on the production process and the benefits of each product, which help build trust in customers".

An Phu Farm's vision is to bring Vietnamese agricultural products to the global market, with a strategy to become a top provider of high-quality organic foods through electronic trading platforms by combining technology and food. At the same time, they aim to collaborate with foreign partners to promote and market their own products.

"An Phu Farm's vision is to introduce Vietnamese agricultural products to the global market. Recently, I have contacted partners in such countries as Australia and the United States to establish partnerships for introducing and supplying organic food produced at An Phu Farm. With this strategy, I understand that it is a long-term direction, but once successful, the potential is significant. Currently, I am most passionate about organic products like quail eggs and herbal chicken," Mr. Tu shared.

Taking farmers as the core

Currently, in the Farm located in Hoa Phu Commune, Hoa Vang District, we invest in its operation according to An Phu Farm standards. As the farmers become familiar with the work, we will hand over the operation to them so that they can become independent and not rely on regular labors. However, An Phu Farm must regularly inspect, supervise, and strengthen labor discipline.


 A corner of An Phu Farm.

According to Mr. Duong Hien Tu: "After nearly 8 years, An Phu Farm now collaborates with about 100 households with monthly incomes of over 10 million VND. Initially, it was very challenging to convince people to adopt An Phu Farm's organic farming methods because people were accustomed to using various pesticides and antibiotics in agriculture and animal husbandry to prevent risks. However, it is these habits that resulted in the presence of many harmful substances in food products when brought to the market. To gain the cooperation of the people, there were times when I had to stay at the farmers' homes and provide guidance. Once they understood the value of organic farming, the people were willing to join me on this journey".

An Phu Farm has learned from many mistakes commonly made in agricultural investments in Vietnam. One of the significant errors is underestimating the role of farmers. Even if you have money and technology, without farmers, you will fail because agriculture is not like industry. Another mistake is being overly indulgent and trusting farmers completely, giving them everything without supervision and monitoring, as discipline is what leads to success. Therefore, I always want to protect sincere farmers, invest in everything, create conditions for people to produce, and provide the utmost support for producing clean agricultural products, even buying them at prices higher than the market to motivate farmers to continue producing clean agriculture.

Remembering the early days of entrepreneurship when I had limited capital and could not afford to hire labor – I did almost all the work by myself. Going through these experiences made me sympathize with farmers even more. As a result, An Phu Farm always prioritizes fairness in financial matters, and we even provide advance payments to farmers so that they can have a stable source of income, and they will feel secured in partnership with An Phu Farm.

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