Vietnam: Overburdened Da Lat is falling apart

Nguyen Dinh My, 55, was one of the first people to plant flowers in greenhouses in Da Lat.

He could never have imagined then that the method, which was considered the future of agriculture, would come to curse the hill town's environment forever.

The Hue-born My represents a generation who fled the horrid hot weather of their central Vietnam hometowns in the 1950s, looking for new lives in the cool Central Highlands town. They were the first to establish the Thai Phien flower village legacy in Da Lat.

Twenty-seven years ago, My was a pioneer of Da Lat's greenhouse flower gardens. The method was introduced by several foreign companies to plant imported vegetables and flowers. It guaranteed twice the output compared to crops planted outdoors, as the weather factor was no longer a problem.

My started with 300 sq.m of greenhouses and expanded it to 8,000 sq.m five years later. His distribution network grew nationwide, and he made enough money to build a big house and take care of his children's education properly.

Greenhouses became the trend in Da Lat in the 2000s when it was known as "high-technology agriculture." Lam Dong Province, home to Da Lat, drafted a development plan in 2004 just for the method.

With the authorities' endorsement, greenhouses mushroomed and evolved from bamboo frames like My's first greenhouses to solid iron constructions.

"Everyone jumped in as they saw the profits," My said.

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