Doan Van Le, a farmer in Tay Hoa Commune of Trang Bom District in the southern province of Dong Nai, no longer uses pesticides on his crops and now relies exclusively on ants that he breeds.
Pointing to the ants' nests, Le explained that the yellow ants like to build their nests at the top of trees.
“They are very strong and aggressive, capable of attacking many species of insects and worms, including caterpillars,” he said.
“Black ants like living in the hollows of trees,” he continued. “Rep sap, or pseudococcus Risso, is their favorite food.”
Le has been breeding ants for many years in his gardens, as they help him protect his plants.
When Le arrived in Dong Nai province many years ago, he earned his living by selling seedlings.
He bought 1.2 hectares of land in Loc Hoa Hamlet to organize agricultural production. However, as the land was heavily infected with alum, he could not have a bountiful crop. Only orange trees could exist on the land, while other trees died because of waterlogging. Fish grew very slowly.
He decided to leave for Dinh Quan District, where he bought three hectares of land for cultivation. And he began thinking of breeding ants there.
“At that time I decided to grow cocoa trees together with cashew and durian. It was lucky for me that I met Dr. Pham Hong Duc Phuoc from the HCM City Agriculture and Forestry University, who advised me to breed ants,” he recalled.
No one believed that the ants would help Le protect his plants from worms and insects. They thought only pesticides could kill insects.
However, they changed their minds after seeing that his plants had not succumbed to outbreaks of disease, while his crop yield was far higher than that of other farmers.
Le said his biggest success is that the trees are free of plant-protection chemicals, and they are safe for consumers. And he does not have to spend money on pesticides.
Nguyen Viet The, an official of the Trang Bom District, said Le's initiative of breeding ants to protect plants has been highly appreciated by engineers. The ants can kill most species of harmful insects and worms.
“Since Le does not spray his plants with pesticide, helpful insects in the earth still can exist and help make the soil rich in nutrients. Meanwhile, the environment is protected from chemicals, a factor that causes pollution,” he said.
According to Le, it is not difficult to breed ants, while the benefits they can bring are substantial. He said he can save VND30 million a year because he does not have to pay for pesticides and spraying.
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