Minh Son commune, Ngoc Lu district (Thanh Hoa) is an area inhabited by the majority of Muong ethnic minorities. For many years, thanks to drying areca nut for export, many households here have become wealthy and many job opportunities are provided for local workers.

Every year, from the beginning of lunar August to the end of lunar November, in some districts in Thanh Hoa mountainous areas such as Lang Chanh, Ngoc Le, and Ba Rang, the establishments that buy young areca nut for export to China become busy.

These days, the areca nut drying factory along Ho Chi Minh road through Minh Son Commune, Ngoc Lu District of Mrs. Cao Thi Loan’s family is very busy. Mrs. Loan said that she has to mobilize more laborers to catch up on export shipments this month.

According to Mrs. Loan, her family has been attached to this profession for more than 20 years. Initially, the output was not much, but in recent years, her factory dries about five to ten tons of fresh areca nut per day. On average, five tons of fresh areca nut can result in one ton of dried areca nut.

By the current size, her family is providing job opportunities for 10-15 workers. Workers picking and sorting areca nuts can earn from four to five million VND/person/month. Those drying areca nuts can earn from nine to ten million VND/person/month.

Ms. Loan said that dried areca nut is bought by Chinese traders, mainly for producing areca nut candy. In the season, areca nut is exported to China once every ten days. Over the years, the factory makes more profits, bringing jobs and increasing income for many local workers.

(Areca nut after being dried will be bought by Chinese business men)

Working for Mrs. Loan’s factory for many years, Mrs. Bui Thi Huong, a Muong ethnic in Minh Tien commune, said that in the past, the income from agricultural work was unstable and could not help feed her family. Since she started the job of picking and sorting areca nuts for the factory, she is paid five million VND every month.

“In the countryside, it is not easy to make any money. This work is not hard while the income is regular, so my family is very happy, always trying to work, ”Mrs. Huong shared.

Unlike Mrs. Huong, Mrs. Bui Thi Loan said that every day she can get about 200,000 VND by picking areca nuts. This is a pretty good income in this mountainous commune. Mr. Bui Van Hoa, in Bong village, Minh Son commune, participating in climbing and picking areca nut said that his job is dangerous but the income is good, he can get 300,000 – 400,000 VND each day.

According to Mrs. Loan, the owner of the areca nut drying factory in Minh Son commune: Currently, the purchase price of fresh areca nut on the market is 70,000 – 80,000 VND/kg; the price of dried areca nut at the factory is from 370,000 – 400,000 VND/kg, which is many times higher than fresh areca nut. Excluding all expenses, on average, a batch of dried areca nuts can make a profit of four million VND. Thus, the areca nut drying factory (in the season) can bring her family a profit of over 50 million VND per month.

Mr. Dang Sy Thu, Chairman of Minh Son People’s Committee, said: The whole commune currently has two drying factories, on average each factory has two or three drying ovens with a capacity of ten tons/batch. The factories provide jobs for 10 – 15 workers/factory, with the income for workers picking and sorting areca nut of four or five million VND/person/month. This job is mainly handled by women. Meanwhile, men take part in the drying stage with an income of nine or ten million VND/person/month.

“The drying factories in the commune have been working for many years. Despite seasonal work, the income in several months of the year like this have contributed to improving the life of local people, ” Mr. Thu said.