Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Farmers and food producers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta are busy preparing speciality fruits and foods to meet burgeoning demand for the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, which begins on February 16.
Võ Trung Thành, chairman of the Phú Trí A Agricultural Extension Club in Hậu Giang Province’s Châu Thành District, said club members are expected to provide about 6,000 pomelos shaped like wine gourds with words or images embossed on the fruits.
The typical images include the expression Tài-Lộc (Wealth-Good Fortune), a gold coin, a piece of gold bullion, or a word written in calligraphy.
"My family has produced about 500,” Thanh told Người Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper.
Thành said heavy rainfall this year had created favourable conditions for pomelo trees to grow, but because of an extra lunar month, flowering for harvest at Tết had been affected.
“Last Tết, my club supplied about 10,000 pomelos, but this year the output fell by 40 per cent. Prices are the same as in previous years, VNĐ300,000 to VNĐ1.2 million, depending on style,” he said.
Customers have signed contracts to buy half the output of the club, he said.
Trần Thanh Liêm, of Cần Thơ City’s Ninh Kiều District, said he would provide about 300 pairs of gold bullion-shaped watermelon with the words Tài-Lộc, compared to 450 pairs in good years.
In years with a bumper crop, 35 per cent of watermelons that have been grown in molds meet requirements, equivalent to 450 pairs.
In years with unfavourable weather or high rainfall, the rate has reached only 14 per cent, he said.
"Regarding price, it will not increase but will be the same as the previous year, with watermelons weighing 2-2.2 kg each costing about VNĐ3 million per pair, and 1.5-1.7kg each about VNĐ2.5 million per pair. These watermelons can be displayed for about two months," Liêm said.
In the last three years, mangoes with calligraphy have been preferred by many consumers..
Huỳnh Thanh Khoa, from Tân Thuận Đông Commune in Đồng Tháp Province’s Cao Lãnh City, said many customers had placed orders for mangoes with calligraphy, but due to erratic weather, he is not sure how mango trees will yield fruit and has thus not accepted deposits from customers.
Mangoes with one word written in calligraphy are priced about VNĐ200,000 each, and those with two words cost about VNĐ300,000 each.
The famous dried snakehead-fish processing establishments in Chợ Mới and Thoại Sơn districts in An Giang Province are increasing output for Tết.
According to government agencies, although the market demand has surged, traditional dried snakehead fish processing establishments have supplied only five tonnes to wholesale traders in Long Xuyên city in the province.
From the wholesale market, the dried fish are distributed to many other localities, including HCM City.
Dương Hồng Loan, owner of the Sáu Loan dried snakehead fish establishment in Núi Sập town in Thoại Sơn District, said she had not sold fish directly to HCM City but to wholesale traders in Long Xuyên at prices ranging from VNĐ150,000-200,000 a kilo.
The dried fish need to be dried outside for three to four sunny days to ensure that they will be delicious and not mold easily.
Thanks to processing in the traditional way, the dried fish have a natural aroma and are preferred by many consumers.
Nguyễn Thị Kim Huệ, owner of Kim Huệ establishment in Chợ Mới town, said to have delicious dried snakehead fish, processors must be careful in many stages, from raw material selection, cleansing the fish’s intestines and removing bones to marination and drying.
Dried snakeskin gourami fish also in high demand for Tết.
Trang Phước Kha, owner of a dried snakeskin gourami processing establishment in An Phú District in An Giang Province, said his dried fish-making village had started to make Tết products more than half a month ago.
However, most of the large-scale processing facilities are concerned about the high cost of raw materials and other costs, while the price of dried fish has dropped by VNĐ50,000 kg to VNĐ60,000-130,000 a kilo compared to last year.
"There are three largest processing establishments and nearly 10 small establishments supplying dried fish for Tết for wholesales traders in Châu Đốc, An Giang and HCM City, with hundreds of tonnes of dried fish of various sizes. We are currently suffering losses at the current prices, but still have to keep our long-time business relationships," Kha said. — VNS