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Farmers toast good harvest, rue decrease in salt prices

Update: April, 25/2014 - 09:25
With its more than 2,660ha of salt fields, Bac Lieu in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region targets production of around 150,000 tonnes this year.— Photo tienphong

HCM CITY (VNS)—  Farmers in Bac Lieu, the country's largest salt producing province, have had a good harvest this year, but the low salt price is affecting their livelihoods.

Ho Thanh Dan, who makes salt on 10ha of land in Dong Hai District's Long Dien Dong Commune, said this year the weather was favourable for salt production.

"In recent days, the weather as been hot, resulting in high salt output."

However, traders buy at the field for around VND1,000 a kilogramme, the same as more than 10 years ago, according to Tran Cong Khanh, a worker at a salt co-operative in Dong Hai.

Dong Hai produces salt on more than 2,000ha, the largest in the province.

But salt fetches the lowest income among 20 agricultural production models in Bac Lieu because of low prices and high costs, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

To increase farmers' profits, local authorities have been urging them in recent years to use advanced techniques.

One such technique involves using plastic or canvas sheets to produce clean salt. It has the advantages of shorter production period, whiter salt, and lower labour costs, but requires greater investment to buy the sheets.

This technique is applied on only around 100ha.

Mai Thanh Hung, deputy head of the Dong Hai Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, said the district encourages farmers to use this method to improve salt quality, but added that most farmers lack the resources to employ it.

With its more than 2,660ha of salt fields, Bac Lieu in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region targets production of around 150,000 tonnes this year.

The province's salt is famous for its high sodium chloride content and low magnesium, calcium, and sulphate contents, which makes for better taste.

Earlier this year Bac Lieu salt was granted protection under geographical indication by the National Office of Intellectual Property. — VNS

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