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Dak Lak faces New Year crisis as kumquats wilt

Update: January, 31/2015 - 09:12
They are facing disaster as disease sweeps through their crops of ornamental kumquats, an auspicious tree in Vietnamese households around the time of the lunar new year. — Photo tienphong
HA NOI (VNS) — Kumquat growers in Hoa Thang Commune in Buon Ma Thuot City in the Central Highland province of Dak Lak are not looking forward to Tet.

They are facing disaster as disease sweeps through their crops of ornamental kumquats, an auspicious tree in Vietnamese households around the time of the lunar new year.

Nguyen Thi Loan, chairwoman of Hoa Thang Commune People's Committee, told Tien Phong (The Vanguard) newspaper that kumquats had been a stable source of income for 20 farm households at this time of year.

However this year, they expect to lose 50 to 70 per cent of their crops and income due to a disease that wilts the leaves and shrinks the fruit.

"Gardeners are trying their best to save the remaining trees in hope of making some cash," Loan said.

Duong Danh Bo, a farmer with 15 years' experience in growing the lucky orange citrus tree in the commune's Hamlet 11, admitted that he had lost his battle to combat the disease that wreaking havoc on kumquat crops.

"I found many of my kumquat trees were diseased as early as November. I tried all I could to save them, but failed. I had no choice but to discard hundreds of them. Worse still, the remainder are hard to sell as their fruit do not ripen equally," Bo said.

Bo said that other households suffering the same problem wanted to increase the selling price of their remaining trees to compensate for the losses, but felt that even if this was done, he would still suffer a big loss.

Nguyen Xuan Truong, another kumquat grower in Hamlet 4 with 1,000 kumquat trees usually makes about VND500 million (US$20,000) from his trees, but this year he has already lost about half.

Truong attributed his bad crop to changing weather patterns at the time the fruit was appearing, not disease. "Prolonged rain for months made the roots rotten," Truong said.

Quach Thuy Duong, president of Hoa Thang Commune Farmers' Union, added that kumquat trees were the most difficult ornamental trees to tend because they were highly sensitive to water and humidity.

"If it rains for many days, photosynthesis in the leaves can be affected, resulting in a reduced number of fruit and poor quality," he said.

The solutions Duong has suggested include applying organic fertilisers and changing the tree posture from the shape of a pyramid into other bonsai forms for continued tending in preparation for the next season.

"Local kumquat growers have agreed to push the price of kumquat trees up by 10 to 20 per cent, but we remain worried that by so doing we will not be able to compete with neighbouring Binh Dinh and Phu Yen provinces which are also bringing their kumquat trees here to sell for Tet. — VNS

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