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A man who was once a teacher and a soldier now grows mushrooms.

Lê Ngọc Khanh took a brave decision to quit his job and start his own business.
He had to work hard and he did not expect things to happen too quickly.
Now, the mushrooms he produces in the central highlands are sold all over Việt Nam.
by Hồng Điệp
Forty-three-year-old Lê Ngọc Khanh from Đăk Hrinh Commune in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum quit his stable job as a teacher at a vocational school and started growing mushrooms in 2014.
Being a novice in the business, Khanh enrolled in a training course to learn how to overcome the challenges. He now owns a 6,000-square-metre mushroom farm that yields tonnes each year.
In 1998, after serving in the army, Khanh married and studied at the construction college in Hà Nội. After finishing his study, he returned to his hometown and worked as teacher in Đăk Hà District and then a vocational training school.

“The hard training in the army helped me to acquire independence, self-discipline and become more tolerant of the challenges in life,” said Khanh.
In 2010, he visited some households expertly growing lingzhi mushrooms in Củ Chi District in HCM City. Khanh found lingzhi could bring high economic benefits and began to nurture a dream of growing them.
In 2012, he visited a lingzhi mushroom farm run by a woman in Krong A Na District in Kon Tum. Khanh then quit his job to pursue mushroom growing. Yet it was not easy. Most of his friends opposed his decision, but he was so determined that he joined a four-month course that offered knowledge and skills in growing the fungus in the Krong A Na vocational training centre.
During the course, he also travelled to other localities, including Phú Yên and Quảng Nam, to learn more.
Khanh then started growing lingzhi at home. Khanh and other former soldiers also set up an agriculture, trade and service co-operative.
“The co-operative was where the soldiers exchanged knowledge on working life, offering their skills to local people. By establishing a co-op, it is easier to call for investment from local small business,” said Khanh.
Khanh hired four workers, the children of co-op members to work on his farm. They learned and worked for a monthly income of VNĐ3.5 million (US$55).
Khanh opened his first lingzhi farm in 2014, which covered 100sq.m and grew four types of mushrooms – lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum), wood ear (Auricularia auricula-judae), oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), and straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea).
Initially he suffered a big loss as only 300 packages of mushrooms were of high quality to sell.
“I still persisted with the project and decided to stay on the farm to identify the reason for the failure,” said Khanh.
With patience and persistance, by late 2015, Khanh was able to sell 250kg of wood-ear mushroom for VNĐ23 million ($1,000), 150kg of lingzhi for VNĐ80 million ($3,500), and 5.6 tonnes of oyster mushrooms for VNĐ100 million ($4,400).
With more than VNĐ200 million ($8,800) from the sale of mushrooms, Khanh paid off his loans and invested in the next batch.
In 2016, things went more smoothly. Khanh made a machine to keep the mushrooms warm. He also made a mixture of chilli, garlic and lemongrass to sterilise the farm.
Currently, his mushrooms are distributed in several supermarkets in Kon Tum, Phú Yên, Đà Nẵng, and HCM City.
Khanh also sells mushroom at the embryonic stage for those who want to grow mushroom by themselves – and shares his knowledge with locals in Kon Tum and Phú Yên provinces.
“Now my hard work has paid off. I am so happy. Mushrooms are such a passion,” said Khanh.
In 2016, sales of mushrooms reached VNĐ 600 million ($27,000) with profit of VNĐ150 million ($6,600). In the first 10 months of this year, Khanh earned VNĐ1 billion ($44,300) in sales with profit of VNĐ250 million ($11,000).
“Khanh’s farm is an exemplary model in the commune. The local authority encourages production to expand so that it can provide more jobs for local people,” said Đặng Thế Quyết, chairman of Đăk Hrinh Commune’s People’s Committee.
Nowadays, mushroom cultivation is being encouraged in Việt Nam as it not only produces clean and healthy food, but creates jobs and reduces environmental pollution. VNS

GLOSSARY

Forty-three-year-old Lê Ngọc Khanh from Đăk Hrinh Commune in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum quit his stable job as a teacher at a vocational school and started growing mushrooms in 2014.
If you have a job that is stable, it is one that you may be able to keep for quite a long time and that pays you on time without any problems.
vocational school is one where they teach students how to do certain jobs.
Being a novice in the business, Khanh enrolled in a training course to learn how to overcome the challenges. He now owns a 6,000-square-metre mushroom farm that yields tonnes each year.
novice is someone who is new at something.
To enrol in a course means to sign up for it.
Yields means produces.
“The hard training in the army helped me to acquire independence, self-discipline and become more tolerant of the challenges in life,” said Khanh.
To acquire means to get.
To be tolerant means to be able to put up with things even if they are a bit of a nuisance.
In 2010, he visited some households expertly growing lingzhi mushrooms in Củ Chi District in HCM City. Khanh found lingzhi could bring high economic benefits and began to nurture a dream of growing them.
To nurture means to look after something and watch it grow.
Khanh then quit his job to pursue mushroom growing.
To pursue mushroom growing means to take it up.
Most of his friends opposed his decision, but he was so determined that he joined a four-month course that offered knowledge and skills in growing the fungus in the Krong A Na vocational training centre.
To oppose means to disagree.
Khanh and other former soldiers also set up an agriculture, trade and service co-operative.
People who are former soldiers were once soldiers but are no longer soldiers.
“By establishing a co-op, it is easier to call for investment from local small business,” said Khanh.
An investment is a project people put money into in the hope of making more money out of it.
Initially he suffered a big loss as only 300 packages of mushrooms were of high quality to sell.
Initially means “at first”.
With patience and persistence, by late 2015, Khanh was able to sell 250kg of wood-ear mushroom for VNĐ23 million ($1,000), 150kg of lingzhi for VNĐ80 million ($3,500), and 5.6 tonnes of oyster mushrooms for VNĐ100 million ($4,400).
If you have patience you are able to wait a long time without getting upset.
If you have persistence you are able to carry on trying something for a long time without giving up.
With more than VNĐ200 million ($8,800) from the sale of mushrooms, Khanh paid off his loans and invested in the next batch.
Loans are deals that involve borrowing or lending money.
Currently, his mushrooms are distributed in several supermarkets in Kon Tum, Phú Yên, Đà Nẵng, and HCM City.
Currently means “now”.
Khanh also sells mushroom at the embryonic stage for those who want to grow mushroom by themselves – and shares his knowledge with locals in Kon Tum and Phú Yên provinces.
The embryonic stage of the mushroom is a very early stage of its development.
“Khanh’s farm is an exemplary model in the commune.”
Exemplary means perfect.
Nowadays, mushroom cultivation is being encouraged in Việt Nam as it not only produces clean and healthy food, but creates jobs and reduces environmental pollution.
Reduces means “makes less”.

WORKSHEET
State whether the following sentences are true, or false:
         1. Lê Ngọc Khanh is thirty-four years old.
         2. This year, Lê Ngọc Khanhbroadened his farm to 9,000sq.m.
         3. By establishing a co-op, it is more difficult to call for investment from local small business.
         4. Lê NgọcKhanh has a machine to keep the mushrooms warm.
         5. Lê NgọcKhanh’s mushrooms can be bought in HCM City.
ANSWERS:
© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017
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