October 24, 2017
A young man returned home to invent an internet-integrated system that helps farmers produce more food with less water.
Tri Nguyen, CEO of MimosaTEK, was born and raised in Dalat, a city in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam, where the land is mountainous and fertile. He grew up surrounded by local farmers who planted a rich variety of products — from bell peppers and flowers to coffee and bananas. Tri moved to Ho Chi Minh City to work in the information technology sector as a young man, but when the opportunity came, he decided to return to his roots and start a strawberry farm with his friends in Dalat.
Tri turned to the local farmers to learn everything he could about growing strawberries. But he kept hearing something that didn’t seem right: The farmers instructed him to irrigate until water dripped out of the soil when he picked it up in his hands.
Tri did some research that confirmed his instincts: The farmers didn’t need to be using that much water. But when he told his neighbors, they insisted on continuing to overwater their crops. It was how they were taught and how they had farmed all their lives.
“I realized then that the farmers based their decisions on experiences instead of scientific data,” says Tri.
Smallholder and family farmers in Dalat water their crops based on what they see and feel. They don’t consult data on the weather or rainfall because they were never taught to do so. This is leading to excessive irrigation, which can stunt growth or kill crops, and deplete limited groundwater. Furthermore, Vietnam is still recovering from its strongest-ever drought, and every drop counts. Many of Dalat’s farmers are already suffering from water shortages. Continue reading “Vietnam’s Homegrown System for Saving Water”