The one who brought Mo areca to the world

QUANG NGAI – Passionate about getting rich from agricultural waste, Mr. Nguyen Van Tuyen, 38 years old, has turned Mo areca into dishes, exported to Korea, Canada, USA…

Quang Ngai has two famous areca growing areas: Son Tay and Nghia Hanh district. But for many years, people only harvested areca berries to sell to traders to export to China. The fallen areca is only used as a toy by children, or discarded, with no economic value.

Mr. Nguyen Van Tuyen in the greenhouse containing raw materials of moca.  Photo: Pham Linh
Mr. Nguyen Van Tuyen in the greenhouse containing raw materials of Mo areca. Photo: Pham Linh

In the past two years, people in Hanh Duc commune, Nghia Hanh district have had an extra job that they never thought of, which is collecting mothballs to change money. Each mocha was purchased by Mr. Tuyen for 1,000 VND. Thousands of moccasins are transported to a greenhouse in Dong Dinh industrial zone to store raw materials. From each mo isca, Tuyen’s workshop produces 1-2 cups and plates.

Tuyen was originally from Quang Nam, born in Phu Yen, and graduated from the University of Transport. However, when he graduated from college, he turned to the business of purchasing, processing and exporting agricultural wastes. In the past, his company collected corn cobs, bagasse, and dried mango leaves to export to other countries as substrates for agricultural production. After working with a group of friends, he split up to make dried bananas in the Central Highlands.

In 2019, when reading news about people selling areca nut, Tuyen thought of taking advantage of mo areca to make useful products. When he researched online, he learned that Indians have turned mo areca into dishes.

The first job of the route is to drive a car to Quang Ngai to survey the raw material area. He calculated, March to October is the time when the month is shed, one hectare for about 12,500 mo a year. If buying at the price of 1,000 VND, people collect another 12.5 million VND per hectare, besides selling fruit.

Squeeze machine before product design.  Photo: Pham Linh
Squeeze machine before product design. Photo: Pham Linh

After surveying, he decided to set up a factory in Nghia Hanh district, import dish-making machines from Indian mocha, and hire 4-5 workers. After being collected, the moccasins are cleaned, soaked in water until soft, and put into a heat press mold for about 40 seconds. Then, the craftsman uses a knife to cut along the contour and shape the product.

Every day, Mr. Tuyen’s workshop produces at most 5,000 products, including rectangular plates, round plates, spoons, spoons, and large and small cups. These products are strong and waterproof, disinfected, packed in heat-pressed nylon bags, and can contain food, fruit, fish sauce, salt, spices…

In 2020, Tuyen’s products resonate at agricultural fairs, being brought into service by an airline for business class. Cups and plates of mo Cau are unique and environmentally friendly. After one year of operation, Tuyen ordered more machines to increase capacity.

Mr. Tuyen said that Mo areca bowls and plates only cost a few thousand dongs to tens of thousands of dongs, and can be reused, so customers don’t have to worry about the price. However, the domestic market is still picky about consuming by-products. Mo areca cups and plates are mainly exported to a number of countries such as Poland, the US…

Products of cups and forks made from areca.  Photo: Pham Linh
Products of cups and forks made from Mo areca. Photo: Pham Linh

Last August, a business in Hai Duong ordered him 200,000 products from Mo areca with 16 types including: cups, plates, spoons, cups, fans, trays, a total value of 400 million VND, to export to Korea. Currently, the factory owner receives orders with double the quantity to export to Canada. Production has only reached one-third of factory capacity due to a lack of raw materials.

Tuyen hopes that after Covid-19, the economic recovery will help products from areca are consumed and known more. At this time, he continued to study pressing tea leaves to make dishes, helping the workshop to generate more revenue and farmers have a reason to protect the trees that keep the coastal land.

Mr. Pham Quoc Vuong, Head of Infrastructure Economic Division of Nghia Hanh district, said that for a long time, Mo areca has not brought economic value. Therefore, Tuyen’s factory has brought income and jobs for local farmers, which is considered a new and promising direction in the locality.

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