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Forum debates sustainable citrus farming

Update: June, 19/2012 - 10:02

TIEN GIANG — Restructuring farming practices and ensuring stable outlets for citrus fruits are among measures required to sustainably develop citrus production, a forum heard in Tien Giang Province last Saturday.

Le Thanh Tung of the Cultivation Department said the south, which enjoyed climatic and soil advantages, had large areas under fruits and was the country's premier fruit-growing area.

In recent years the region's fruit production had grown significantly in terms of area, varieties, and output, with citrus fruits accounting for a significant share.

But the downside was that fruit production and consumption in the region still faced many problems.

The small scale and scattered nature of farming, huge post-harvest losses, inconsistent quality, unreliable outlets, diseases, and lack of tie-ups between businesses and farmers threatened sustainable development.

The small scale of production precluded mechanisation, and since farmers grew many kinds of fruits in the same orchard, they were unable to supply large volumes with consistency in size, colour, and quality.

The region grew many varieties of citrus fruits like the green-skin pomelo, king orange, and seedless lemon that were in high demand in the world market, but did not have areas specialising in one or the other.

There was a lack of quality packaging plants in the region.

There was no planning in growing fruits and farmers decided what to grow based on factors like a recent bumper crop, causing prices to be volatile.

To sustainably develop citrus farming in the south, each province should restructure production and develop co-ordination between production and consumption, Tung said.

Hoang Quoc Tuan, director of the Agriculture Planning and Design Institute, said farmers should increase application of good agricultural practice standards to raise the value of their fruits.

Authorities should think of consumption markets and set up packaging and processing factories when make zoning plans for citrus fruit development, he said.

They should work with supermarkets and other distributors to reduce intermediary costs involved in consumption, he added.

Nguyen Minh Chau, director of the Southern Fruit Research Institute, said localities should develop systems that can supply clean, high-quality citrus seedlings. Proper planting techniques should be adopted to control diseases, he said. — VNS

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