MEKONG DELTA — Ben Tre Province, where located the country's most important coconut growing area, has decided to provide financial assistance of VND80 billion (US$3.8 million) to coconut farmers since the price of their products has declined dramatically this year, affecting their lives.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, secretary of the Ben Tre Party Committee, said farmers would be provided with 100kg of fertilisers, worth VND1.5 million, per hectare of coconut grove.
Besides, farmers who plant cacao or raise shrimp in coconut orchards will be fully subsidised, he told Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper. Cacao and shrimp are two items that Ben Tre has encouraged farmers to develop.
Since October the price of dry coconut (the whole nut) has fallen by almost nine times to VND15,000-20,000 per dozen because of a decline in global demand and prices.
Meanwhile, the area under coconut around the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, including in Ben Tre, has increased on the back of high prices in recent years.
Many farmers are now stuck with large harvests, forcing many of them cut down their coconut trees.
Ben Tre exported only about 26.5 million coconuts worth $21.2 million in the first half of this year, down 51 per cent and 55 per cent in quantity and value terms from the same period last year.
Phong said coconut played an important role in Ben Tre's economy and social security since it provided livelihood for more than 163,000 families, or 40 per cent of the province's population.
The nuts account for a fifth of the province's agricultural output value, he said.
The province has asked the Government to add coconut products to the annual national trade promotion programme to help exporters find new markets, recognise coconut as a national industrial tree, and create a comprehensive coconut zoning plan, he said.
Ben Tre also wanted the Government to make it the national hub for research, technologies, and eco-tourism related to coconut trees, he added.
Ben Tre has 55,000ha of coconut groves, or 35 per cent of the country's total area, and an annual output of 430 million nuts.
Tra Vinh Province, the country's second largest coconut grower, has also decided to provide subsidies of nearly VND20 billion ($950,000) to more than 40,000 farmers to buy fertilisers.
Tran Quoc Tuan, deputy director of the province's Department of Industry and Trade, said the support was aimed at preventing farmers from chopping down coconut trees.
The Ministry of Finance has decided to scrap the 3 per cent export tax on whole coconut from September. — VNS