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Bamboo innovator creates useful device

VietNamNet Bridge – Bui Van Du’s machine to split bamboo not only
enriched the inventor; it also raised earnings for his fellow villagers. 

VietNamNet Bridge – Bui Van Du's machine to split bamboo not only enriched the inventor; it also raised earnings for his fellow villagers.

Time-saver: The machine can split a bamboo stalk into 17 strips in one minute.

Bui Van Du stunned top Vietnamese engineers with his first machine
even though he started from scratch and did not have either a university
degree or engineering skills.

July 2004 was one of the most
memorable periods in Du’s life when the design of his machine was
completed. A year later, the machine drove the people in his village
crazy.

Du’s childhood was closely associated with the countryside bamboo. By seven, he had mastered the art of knitting wattle.

But
it was only when he and his family of four daughters and a son
struggled with poverty every day that Du realised he had to do something
to get out of that situation.

“My adolescence was spent near a
mountainous area in the northern provinces of Tuyen Quang and Bac Kan. I
was once an illegal gold digger in Na Hang District, where I suffered
from malaria for a long time. I also did a lot of extra work. The work
hours were long, but I still could not earn enough to feed my children,”
he recalls.

“Once I went to the market as usual. There I saw a
woman cutting water spinach into long and thin strips with a knife.
Suddenly, something occurred to me,” he says.

Bamboo innovator creates useful device

On reaching home, Du could not eat or sleep all day. At night, something
flashed through his mind and he immediately got up and made some quick
sketches on a piece of paper.

The whole week, Du was in a whirl,
working with iron, steel and other stuff. His first machine model had 10
knife blades, set in a circle at the centre, with an iron tube as a
handle on the outside.

“It normally takes 15 to 16 attempts to
completely split up a bamboo stalk into strips. Even then, they are not
of equal size. With this new device, a boy can split up a piece of
bamboo into 17 strips within a minute. I added an extra iron ring
outside the machine’s knives, which are larger than usual, to protect
them from breaking when they touch the ground.”

Still, things did not work out easily. Despite using the knives, Du could split only one to two bamboo stalks a day.

“The
machine did not work as I had planned. At times it paused and at other
times, something would get stuck in it and it would stop. The process
was not right,” he adds.

“Each time the machine stopped, I
detached it and started all over again. In July 2004, it ran smoothly.
But to be exact, it was a month later that I understood my dream had
come true. The machine stood firmly in the middle of my yard, swallowing
a bamboo trees. A few minutes later, when the smooth part came out from
one side and the residue from the other, I was so happy that I could
not utter a word,” says the 43-year-old.

Du had made his fortune.
After he priced his machine at VND7.5 million (US$330), orders poured in
from across the country and people lined up outside his house. Farmers
in many places from north to south did business with him.

Fully-equipped
with the required material, Du opened a workshop with many workers to
assist him and push up the production. With the help of just a knife set
and a bamboo splitting machine, a person can do the work of 80 workers
per day.

Inspired by him, many people in Hiep Dong Village bought
his machine. Now every villager who splits bamboo stalks in spare time
can pocket VND70,000. The whole village has earned more than VND1
billion from the enterprise.

“People thank me a lot for what I
have done to make their work more convenient and comfortable. I think
enriching myself is the most righteous way of enriching others and the
country,” adds the farmer.

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