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In economic difficulties, ornamental plants left to wither   2012-04-04 - Tien phong

Hong Van Commune in Thuong Tin district of Hanoi was one time called the “billionaires’ village,” where ornamental plants could be sold at several billions of dong, helping local residents turn into billionaires. However, in the economic recession storm, the valuable trees turn withered, while craftsmen turn moneyless.

The billionaires who take the knock

Hong Van is considered the biggest ornamental plant market in the north which gathers the ornamental plants of the three north, central and south regions. The locality is also considered the “incubator” that creates young billionaires.

In Vietnam, cars are the assets of the rich people only. Meanwhile, in Co Giao village alone, there were once 40 cars, including luxurious ones such as BMW X6, Lexus 350, or Camry 2.4 imported from the US. Those, who arrived in the village some years ago, might see tens of cars parking on the country lanes and on the edge of the fields.

At that time, the deals of selling ornamental plants worth hundreds of millions of dong, or several billions of dong, took place every day.

However, the commune has become quiet since mid-2011--with no sale or buying deals. The economic recession has forced people to tighten their belt and cut down spending. As a result, a lot of ornamental plants have been left unsold, while their owners have been put into tenterhooks, because they cannot pay bank debts or the money borrowed in the black market with the exorbitant high interest rates of 30-60 percent.

“The ornamental plant village has never face such big difficulties before,” said Nguyen Van Hiep, Chair of the Hong Van Commune’s Ornamental Plant Association, who has 10 year experience in the field.

Hiep said that ornamental plants are the “toys of the rich”. However, in the economic recession, the rich people have also shrunk back and do not spend money on luxurious hobbies any more.

The sales have dropped dramatically since mid 2011, now just equal to 1-2 percent of the years before. In fact, most of the buyers and sellers in the deals were professional ornamental plant growers.

As the plants have been left unsold, though growers accept to bargain them away, the income of thousands of workers has dropped dramatically.

Hiep said that he has some 300 ornamental plants grown on an area of 3500 square meters. In the “golden age”, his plants were valuated at 40 billion dong. These include a plant worth 3 billion dong, 15 plants worth one billion dong each. However, since late 2011, he could sell only one plant at 250 million dong.

In the golden age, Hiep said, ornamental plants sold very well. About 3-5 plants were sold within several days, while he earned tens of millions of dong for every plant sold.

“At that time, our five brothers had five cars. However, four have been sold to get money to pay debts. I just have sold my Mercedes C180 to pay debts, and now I drive motorbike,” he complained. Every month, Hiep has to pay 2 billion dong in interest for the bank loans.

However, it seems that Hiep is luckier than many other farmers. HV, once a young billionaire, now has to hide himself from the chase of creditors. “This is not a rumor. I really owe tens of billions of dong to creditors,” he said.

V has not sold any plants in the last seven months, while he spent too much money on the investment. The plants alone cost 30 billion dong. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the loans are from the black market, for which he has to pay high interests. With the sky high interest rates of 30-60 percent per annum, V has to pay 200 million dong a month in interest.

Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, who was once a billionaire, said that he now has to breed pigs to feed the family. “I was told that I need to keep patient and wait for one or two years. However, I have to survive the two years. Therefore, I have to breed pigs,” he said.

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