In Bac Kan, farmers grow Japanese vegetables to export to Japan

In recent years, the northern province of Bac Kan has restructured its agricultural production by switching from rice and corn to crops with higher value. Last year, the province approved expanding the growing area of Japanese mustard for export to Japan.

Farmers in Vu Muon are harvesting Japanese mustard plants.
Farmers in Vu Muon are harvesting Japanese mustard plants.

Vu Muon is an extremely disadvantaged commune in Bach Thong District. With limited arable land and a shortage of water, rice growing is barely profitable. During the winter, the land is usually left for grass to grow. But everything changed last year when the local fields were covered with the green colour of a variety of Japanese mustard. Some mustard plants weigh up to three kilograms, something local farmers have never seen before.

The initiative to grow Japanese mustard was born from Bac Kan Province’s determination to implement the value chain in agriculture. This is the model of linkage between three players: the government, the enterprises and the farmers, under which the government provides 70% of the costs for seeds and other materials, the enterprises provide technical support and purchase the products, while the farmers are responsible for growing and tendering the plants.

The seeds of Japanese mustard are provided by Vietnam Misaki Company, which instructs farmers to grow and harvest, and then purchases all of their products and processes them for export to Japan.

Vietnam Misaki Director Hoang Thi Lap said before choosing Vu Muon as the place to implement the Japanese mustard project, the company had brought Japanese experts to the commune to survey the soil quality and climate conditions. The assessment results show that the soil and climate conditions here are good for Japanese mustard. After being harvested, all the mustards are transported to and processed at the company’s factory in the Thanh Binh Industrial Park, and then exported to Japan.

In Bac Kan, farmers grow Japanese vegetables to export to Japan ảnh 1

A truck is collecting Japanese mustard plants in Vu Muon.

Dinh Thi Ngu, a farmer in Vu Muon, said in excitement: “This kind of vegetable only takes about 2.5 months from sowing to harvest but a plant can weigh 2.5 kilograms. After accounting for the costs, we can make a profit of tens of millions of Vietnamese dong.”

Calculations show that Japanese mustard grows very well in the soil and cold weather in Vu Muon and the yield can reach up to 5 tonnes per hectare, bringing an income of VND100 million (about US$4,300) per hectare in a short period of time, which is many times higher than from rice production.

Initially there were only a few households growing this mustard but now the total area has increased to several tens of hectares. Farmers taking part in the project are provided with seeds and fertilisers. When the harvest time comes, the company sends trucks directly to the fields to purchase the mustard and the farmers do not have to pay any transport costs.

In Bac Kan Province, there are many communes with the similar soil and climate conditions as Vu Muon, so in 2020 Vietnam Misaki increased the Japanese mustard growing area to nearly 15 hectares in the two districts of Bach Thong and Cho Don. In the past winter crop, the company purchased about 700 tonnes with the value of over VND1 billion (US$43,400). Many households celebrated a well-off Lunar New Year thanks to growing Japanese mustard in cooperation with the company.

Director Hoang Thi Lap said Japanese people particularly love this variety of mustard, known in Japanese as takana, which is processed by pickling. The dish is very popular so the potential for export is huge. The company will consider expanding the growing area for Japanese mustard as well as Japanese onion.

Bac Kan Vice Chairwoman Do Thi Minh Hoa said that the province is striving to implement an agricultural production strategy of focusing a product on a specific market. Following the success of two Japanese rice varieties, the continued success of Japanese mustard shows that the province is going in the right direction.The province will continue to facilitate the cooperation between different players in agricultural production in order to increase the growing area of Japanese mustard and other high-value plants for export in the coming years.