MEKONG DELTA – Fruit varieties grown in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are already fetching higher prices, nearly two months ahead of the Tet (lunar new year) holiday, when prices typically undergo a seasonal spike.
Wholesale traders have flocked to orchards to buy up ripening crops of Lai Vung mandarin and Cat Chu mango in Dong Thap Province, green-peeled grapefruit in Beon Tre Province, and Hoa Loc mango in Tien Giang Province.
The mandarin, a specialty of Dong Thap's Cao Lanh District, is being sold at orchards at VNe22,000/kg, up from VNe16-17,000 just 10 days earlier.
Luu Van Rang, who owns a 6,000sq.m mandarin orchard in Vinh Thoi Commune, said he and many other farmers had refused to sell because they hoped that prices would rise further before Tet. Rang said he expected to command closer to VND26,000 as the holiday neared.
"The yield in most orchards will not be what has been in recent years," he said.
The Lai Vung Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau expects yields to decline by 40 per cent due to unfavourable weather and flooding this year. The district has around 1,200ha under cultivation with the pink mandarin and output was expected to shrink by 16,000 tonnes, the bureau said.
The output of green-peeled grapefruits in Ben Tre was also expected to decline since an estimated 40 per cent of grapefruit-growing areas in the province have been infested by a worm (Citripestis sagittiferelle Moore) that destroys the fruit, according to orchard owners.
Dam Van Hung, chairman of the Huong Mien Tay Grapefruit Co-operative in Ben Tre, said the fruit was being sold at orchards now for VND34,000/kg.
"If the disease is not controlled soon, the price at orchard could be as much as VNe36,000, a record high," Hung said.
In Dong Thaup and Tien Giang over the past month, traders have been unable to secure supplies of Hoa Loc mango for Tet. In Cao Lanh Distirct, the mango now costs VNe90,000 compared to VNe30-40,000 during normal market conditions. Huynh Thanh Sun, deputy head of the district's agricultural bureau said that heavy rains during the blossoming season had cut the fruit bearing rate in half.
Mango harvests have also been poor this season in Tien Giang Province because of unfavourable weather. Huynh Thanh Sang, vice chairman of the province's Hoa Looc Mango Co-operative, said the price of Hoa Loc mango was currently VND75,000, VND10,000-15,000 higher than last year. At this price, farmers could earn VND30 million per 1,000 sq.m of orchard, he said. – VNS