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Giant winter melons fail to bring a profit

Update: May, 24/2014 - 09:20
A farmer in Binh Dinh Province's My Tho Commune harvests giant winter melons. — VNS Photo Ly Kha
BINH DINH  (VNS) — Farmers in the central Binh Dinh Province are harvesting their typical winter melon, which is about 10 times larger than the normal size and weight.

The giant fruit, which grows well only in the province's My Tho Commune in Phu My District, weighs from 35 kg to 70 kg. One normal fruit of the same species has an average weight of 1 kg only.

Nguyen Dinh Giao, one of the giant fruit growers, said that he grew the plants every year as a family tradition and that he had no idea about the origin of the giant winter melon.

"People in other areas wanted the plant and they bought seed home for cultivation. But they have never harvested a giant fruit such as that grown here in the commune's Chanh Trach village,' he said.

Giao has 300 sq m land plot for a yearly crop of the giant fruit, which require more effort during cultivation compared to the normal winter melon. However, profit from the giant fruit is not that high.

Other growers in the village said that they would not give up the profession despite the low economic values. "The fruit is the pride of our ancestors. I will continue growing the plant for that reason," said Do Van Thuan, another grower.

Winter melon could be used for soup in daily meals or sweet jams. Its extractive juice is used as the main ingredient for winter melon bottled soft drink, a refreshment drink popular in Viet Nam currently.

One tonne of winter melon is sold in the village at VND5 million. Giao and Thuan could grow only one crop of the fruit a year, with an average productivity of 1.5 tonne or total revenue of VND7.5 million a year, too low for half a year of cultivating and nurturing the plants.

Consumers are traders from central Phu Yen Province or southern HCM City and Binh Duong and Long An provinces. The area for planting the fruit is not stable, depending on the market demand of the previous crop.

According to Nguyen Kim Trac, the commune's deputy chairman, at the ripe time, total area of winter melon could reach 20 hectares for hundreds of tonnes of the giant fruit.

"But the current area is totaling 5 hectares. We cannot find a stable market for the fruit despite the capacity of the local farmers to produce much more than that," he said.

Experts said that the fruit could gain giant size because of the typical land and water in the village and that it could be a grand supply for winter melon soft drink production.

They suggested that local authorities should be active in contacting jam or soft drink producers in HCM City and Binh Duong for direct contract of winter melon supply.

"The fruit is endemic to the village, and we hope to find a proper way to conserve the plant as well as give farmers more profit," Trac said. — VNS

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