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Fruit doctor helps farmers understand crop diseases
17 | 09 | 2007
The small office of the southern Fruit Research Institute (FRI) at Long Dinh Commune, Chau Thanh District, in the southern province of Tien Giang, was originally established with the aim of helping farmers grow more productive fruit trees. These days it has become well-known as the fruit hospital.

"The hospital has no head office, no equipment, no operation fees, and receives no payment," said Le Thi Thu Hong, director of the hospital.

More than 100 staff members from the institute have registered to voluntarily work for the hospital. Farmers from the Mekong Delta region are very good at growing fruit trees, however, most of them simply go on their own past experiences. This is perhaps why many of them don’t know how to go about solving problems when strange diseases appear.

Since the hospital’s opening three months ago, the number of people it has helped is uncountable.

Farmers can either take their diseased fruit to the office, or they can invite a doctor to go look at their gardens.

One Saturday, a delegation went to an area specialising in the growth of the sanh orange (a famous type of orange) at My Loi A Commune, Cai Be District, where more than 50 farmers eagerly awaited their turn to have the doctors examine their fruits.

The delegation only brought two boxes of leaflets telling farmers how to recognise and treat diseases, some small tools, and some microscopes.

"The trees can’t talk so the doctors must do everything. We check the whole tree very carefully in order to give an accurate conclusion. If we don’t do this, we will lose the farmer’s trust," said Hong.

It takes about 10-30 minutes for a doctor to check a tree and diagnose the disease. They also answer all the farmers’ relevant questions.

"It’s not easy to meet the doctor, so I must ask him all the questions that are on my mind," said Nguyen Van Ly from My An hamlet, My Loi B Commune.

Besides voluntarily helping farmers treat these diseases, the doctors also educate people so they may become nurses for a group of farmers. If a disease appears on fruit trees in that region, the nurses living there can take pictures and send them to the hospital to receive instructions.

The mail address at the hospital, benhviencay@yahoo.com, is always filled with questions from farmers. All of the doctors check the mail, and answer questions according to their specific skills.

"We are setting up a web site for the hospital. All the information concerning fruits from Viet Nam and other countries will be updated so farmers can have easy access," said Hong.

The web site will also have a question and answer section where farmers can consult, diagnose, and learn treatments for the fruit diseases



VNS
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