Delta fruit farmers see prices fall
CUU LONG DELTA (VNS)— Provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are being urged to work together to limit the over-supply of specialty fruits like thick-skinned oranges by planting at different times of the year.
|Customers select oranges in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang. Prices of oranges have fallen as supplies of the fruit have swelled during harvest season. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
Prices for oranges have fallen as this is the peak harvest season for the fruit and supply is plentiful.
Farmer Nguyen Thanh Trong of Soc Trang Province, who grows the fruit on 5,000sq.m, is getting only VND4,500 (US$0.2) per kilo, compared to VND30,000 a kilo four months ago when there was a supply shortage.
"With current prices, we are breaking even, and some farmers are suffering losses," he said.
A few months ago, many farmers in the Delta, especially in Vinh Long, Hau Giang and Soc Trang provinces, shifted to growing thick-skinned oranges as it was bringing high prices at the time. Most thick-skinned oranges are sold locally.
Fruits like mangoes, longans, dragonfruit and rambutan also decline in price during their peak harvest seasons.
Experts at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have urged provinces to work together to ensure that the supply of fruit remains steady and that prices do not fall due to oversupply.
"Provincial offices should ensure that planting of the fruits are done at different times and that there is little overlap among provinces," they said.
Farmer Nguyen Van Chinh, who owns a 1-hectare rambutan orchard in Ben Tre Province's Cho Lach District, said he had been growing the fruit out of season for a few years.
"The yield for unseasonable rambutan is not high, but the price is two to three times higher than rambutan in season," he said.
Nguyen Minh Chau, head of the Southern Fruit Research Institute, said Tien Giang and Ben Tre provinces were able to export their rambutan to the US because they grow the fruit during the off-season.
This is possible because farmers use certain advanced techniques to grow the fruit, he added.
Speaking at a seminar on fruit cultivation held in Ben Tre Province early this month, Dam Van Hung, owner of the province's Huong Mien Tay Fruit-Trading Shop, said he had been working with hundreds of farmers in the Delta to grow green-peel grapefruit year-round under the Global and Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practices.
Hung purchases about 20-30 tonnes of grapefruit a day from these farmers and sells them domestically and for export.
With a stable quantity, quality and markets, the price of the grapefruit remains at VND30,000-38,000 a kilo, which helps farmers earn a profit of VND400-500 million per hectare a year.
Nguyen Van Liem, deputy director of Vinh Long Province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province's farmers were growing thick-skinned oranges and Nam Roi grapefruit out of season.
Vinh Long has asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to reconfigure its zoning plan for fruit so the provinces can produce fruit all year-round.
MARD Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong said rezoned areas would include the following fruit: mango, longan, grapefruit, thick-skinned orange, durian, rambutan, dragon fruit, banana and pineapple.
Of the fruits, seven of them can be grown out of season because of market demand.
Each province will set up its designated harvest time, according to the ministry.
The ministry's Plant Cultivation Department will work with the Delta provinces to set up such times.
The southern region has about 415,800ha of fruit, accounting for 53.2 per cent of the country's total fruit area, according to the Plant Cultivation Department. — VNS