For several years now VNHelp has had a Microfinance Program which provides loans for poor individuals in Vietnam to fund good investment plans to help them generate income. One of those is the Cochinchine Gourd Plant cultivation program (Trồng Gấc) in Hiệp Hoà, Đạo Tú and Duy Phiên communes, Vĩnh Phúc province. Gấc is considered a “super food” and it has high economic value. The Gấc fruit is typically served at ceremonial or festive occasions such as Tết (New Year) and weddings. It is commonly prepared as Xôi Gấc, in which the seeds and their covering are cooked in sticky rice, giving the dish its distinctive color and flavor. The fruit is also sold in the form of a dietary supplement beverage because it is believed to be beneficial to human health and helps prevent various diseases. At this time of the year, young Gấc seed plants are growing into little trees and starting to fill their support scaffolds. They will be ready for harvesting by December and January. Along with providing Gấc plants for farmers to cultivate, VNHELP also introduces Gấc growth models, builds and supports irrigation systems, supplies planting equipment, and provides training for staff and local people about growing Gấc. All of this is to ensure the economic efficiency of the program. Here are a few images illustrating this worthy initiative; stay tuned for further updates.