The People of Vietnam: Mr. Le Hoang Than (VACB farmer)
By Lione Clare
Mr. Than greeted us with a warm smile, individual handshakes, and freshly brewed green tea. He owns a unique farm in My Khanh Village on the outskirts of Can Tho in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Mr. Than is known as a “smart farmer,” because he was the first to accept switching to a biogas energy system as part of a project the Can Tho University College of Agriculture is working on. The biogas system digests pig dung and vegetation then captures the methane gas byproduct, which is used for cooking, generating electricity, and pumping water around Mr. Than’s home. Capturing the methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as a powerful greenhouse gas makes this a renewable energy system.
Mr. Than has been using the VACB model (fruit garden, pigs, aquaculture, and biogas) on his farm since 1996. The system has saved him around $4,267 dollars over 20 years and also made his farm and the surrounding environment much cleaner. Pig dung no longer gets washed into the river or becomes concentrated around the farm. Other benefits of the system include a reduction in women’s work otherwise needing to chop and dry firewood for cooking, being able to use the broken down organic matter from the bottom of his fish pond to fertilize his crops, and saving half the cost for fish food.
Mr. Than’s daily life includes feeding his pigs and fish, washing the pigpens (to get the dung into the biogas digesters) and tending his garden. He also participates in Can Tho University’s education workshops, where he shares about his renewable energy system and encourages other farmers to adopt the biogas model.