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Farmers hit by falling price of vegetables

Update: February, 14/2015 - 08:51

AN GIANG (VNS) —Tet is almost here, but sales of numerous vegetables and fruits in the Mekong Delta have been slow, even though prices have fallen.

As prices tumble, with some having declined by 50 per cent, farmers are willing to accept losses and sell at a much lower prices to regain part of their investment.

Pham Van Deo, a farmer from An Giang Province's My Hoi Dong Ward, said his family was not going to harvest crops from his 2,000sq.m coriander field this year since the price was pushed to VND2,000 (10 US cents) per kg.

He chose instead to wait another two months to collect the seeds, hoping he would find a buyer for them to minimise his losses this year.

Other farmers did not have that privilege, since they had to pay VND3-4 million (US$150-200) a year for their fields and were under pressure to quickly get rid of the harvest and start planting again.

The large supply of coriander in the market and un-coordinated crop sales have resulted in a very low price for coriander and other crops across the region.

Farmer Tran Van Hai said other factors such as bad weather and increased expenses also contributed to the problem.

Prices for favourite Tet fruits such as watermelons and pink tangerines were holding up after a slight decrease. However, there was a risk that prices would fall again, as many farmers still couldn't manage to empty their stock before the holidays.

"Prices for various vegetables and crops have gone down by 50-70 per cent from last month," said Tran Thi Le Thu, a vegetable merchant in My Hoi Dong.

She said the market couldn't handle a large supply of vegetables so close to the holiday, but farmers kept bringing them.

Merchants often try to buy from farmers early to avoid the price surge closer to Tet, but if prices fail to pick up before the holiday, they will have to negotiate with farmers again or incur financial losses.

Farmers in many provinces in the Mekong Delta have switched to growing vegetables as an alternative to traditional but low-yield rice. However, vegetable prices have proven difficult to predict and farmers have been struggling.

Switching to growing vegetables without first taking measures to improve product quality made it difficult to raise the price, said Nguyen Phuoc Tuyen, head of the Mekong Delta Dong Thap Province's Department of Scientific Research and Information.

"In addition, vegetables that can't be sold are wasted after just a short time, showing that farmers don't have technology to preserve their products," Tuyen said.

The lack of a master plan for the whole region could result in a scenario where the market wouldn't be able to handle what farmers produced and prices would continue to plummet, Tuyen warned. — VNS

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