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Cane farmers struggle to sell crops

Update: December, 29/2012 - 09:25

 

A local farmer harvests sugarcane at a field in Mekong Delta Hau Giang Province's Phung Hiep District. Local sugarcane farmers are finding it difficult to sell their crops due to the fall in sugar prices and reduced sugar mill production in the delta. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong
CUU LONG DELTA (VNS)— Many farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are unable to find traders to sell their sugarcane crop as sugar prices fall and sugar mills reduce production.

Nguyen Van Hai, who owns 3ha of sugarcane in Kien Giang Province's U Minh Thuong District, is worried as most of his plants have blossomed and he is still to find a trader.

"When it was harvest time, the price of sugarcane was low that my family decided to delay harvesting in the hope that prices would go up later," he said.

"However, the longer I wait, the more losses I make as the price of sugar is low and I cannot find a trader," he added.

"The blossoming has made my sugarcane quality reduce by 10-15 per cent and adding to the losses."

When sugarcane blossoms, its sugar concentration declines and traders buy blossomed sugarcane at lower prices.

Nguyen Van Tam of Hau Giang Province's Vi Thanh City has only sold 0.5ha of 1.5ha of sugarcane for VND800 a kilo.

Tam has not been able to find a trader for the remaining crop.

"At this time last year, farmers here had finished planting a new crop. This year, the harvest is very slow," he said.

Le Van Doi, deputy director of the Hau Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province harvested 12,87ha of the total 14,28ha of sugarcane in the locality. "This year's low prices mean mills are not operating at full capacity and the harvest is happening slowly," he said.

Nguyen Hoang Ngoan, deputy general director of the Can Tho Sugar Joint Stock Company (Casuco), said despite it being the year-end and the demand for sugar to make confectionary and soft drinks was large, prices were very low.

The price of sugar is now VND14,200 a kilo, a reduction of nearly VND5,000 against the same period last year.

"At this price, the company suffers a loss of VND500 for every kilo of sugar it produces," he said.

However, Casuco was still trying to maintain production and consume sugarcane from farmers, he said.

Sugarcane farmers and sugar mills will continue to face several difficulties next year, experts say.

Tran Dat Duy, director the Hai Van Company, which plants hundreds of hectares of sugarcane in the Long Xuyen Quadrilateral, said: "The sugar sector is in a crisis cycle."

"The price of sugarcane is low and it is difficult for farmers to sell their crop as sugar mills are reducing purchases. Farmers will switch to other crops if they cannot earn profit," he said.

Doi said it was possible that the area under sugarcane cultivation in Hau Giang would reduce for the coming crop as many farmers already switched to rice and other crops.

Nguyen Hai, general secretary of the Viet Nam Sugar and Sugarcane Association, said despite its co-operation with relevant agencies and companies to prevent smuggling of sugar as well as sugar trade fraud, the situation had not improved.

About 300,000-400,000 tonnes of sugar is illegally brought into the country at prices VND3,000-4,000 a kilo cheaper than domestically produced sugar, according to Hai.

"When there is a sugar surplus, the price will fall, mills will reduce production and farmers will have to bear the brunt," he said. — VNS

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