AUSTRALIA: Queensland farmer helps build mango industry in Vietnam

by Eliza Rogers, ABC Rural



Seth Morton doesn’t fit the mould of a typical Australian mango farmer.

He has a passion for audio engineering and film, and spends most of his time tending mango orchards in Vietnam and empowering the local people.

As his family-owned farm grapples with a personal loss, Mr Morton hopes to use his skills to capture the stories of people he has met.


Same crop, different cultures

Building the quality and profile of the mango helped drive the Morton family’s decision to set up mango orchards in Vietnam 14 years ago.

Mr Morton shares his time between two countries, managing the Vietnamese harvest in April and the Australian harvest late in the year.

Aside from the fruit, Mr Morton cares deeply about the local community.

The concept behind the Vietnam crop is to teach local farmers to grow mangoes to export standard, and help raise living standards.

“It’s helping out the local Vietnamese economy a lot, and the mango industry over there is developing quite quickly now, so it’s very good to see that,” Mr Morton said.

He said there were 2,000 hectares of R2E2 mango trees in Vietnam and another 3,000 grafted trees, which would produce fruit in the next few years.



Film skills will come in handy

But farming is not Mr Morton’s only skill. He has studied audio engineering and film — skills which he said had kept him ahead of the game, and could help document his experiences.

“I think a background in technology absolutely helps in any sort of farming. The technology in the agricultural industry is evolving and changing every single year,” he said.

It is his film experience which Mr Morton hopes can capture the unique stories of the Vietnamese people he has come to know by living and farming alongside them.

“A lot of the people in Vietnam are very, very poor… but every day they laugh and smile and they love their families… they have a very, very unique strength about them,” Mr Morton said.

“I would love to start making some documentaries and chronicling the tales of some of these lifestyles.”

One of the major battles Mr Morton had witnessed is the remnants of the Vietnam War and the bad legacies it has left, such as birth deformities from Agent Orange.

“My initial thoughts came from this, just by chatting with these people and realising how many interesting stories are out there, and some deep and profound emotions that these people have to deal with every day,” he said.


Sad loss brings farmer home early

Coming back to his original home to help with the mango harvest happened much earlier this year for Mr Morton after a loss in the family.

“Unfortunately, my father, who initially set up the farm, passed away from cancer a couple of months ago,” he said.

“But it’s really nice to see the mangoes that my father looked after get looked after… and looking good.”

Instead of feeling pressure from the loss, Mr Morton reflected on his father’s work, and the values he had passed on, such as taking pride in work and doing well at it.

“My father was an incredible farmer, and basically, I got taught by the best,” he said.

Mr Morton will return to Vietnam after the Queensland harvest, and said the crew at the north Queensland farm would continue taking good care of the operation.


Source: ABC Rural

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