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Low demand embitters sweet potato farmers

Update: May, 30/2015 - 09:17
Farmers in Binh Tan District in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long, which has the largest area of sweet potato cultivation for export, are despairing over fall in prices. — Photo cafef
VINH LONG (VNS)  — Farmers in Binh Tan District in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long, which has the largest area of sweet potato cultivation for export, are despairing over fall in prices.

Earlier, sweet potatoes were priced at VND1.2 million ($55.5) per 60kilo. But now, that has fallen drastically to VND180,000 (US$8.3) per 60kilo in the last few days, causing huge losses to farmers.

As they were earning high profits from growing sweet potatoes, many residents here stopped cultivating rice, farmer Le Minh Dat said.

But now the price of sweet potato is tending to fall continuously.

Its quality and output have also dropped sharply due to infectious diseases.

Director of Tan Thanh Co-operative Son Minh Luan said several potato farms were attacked by strange insects and many of them have been abandoned.

There's been a 60 to 70 per cent fall in output, and traders are refusing to buy the potatoes, leading to stagnant consumption.

Huynh Van Quan, deputy director, said the market was not stable because fewer traders in China, the major market for this product, bought the sweet potatoes, while farmers had a bumper crop.

Supply exceeds demand, leading to the sharp fall in prices. Sweet potatoes are being cultivated in 12,000ha of land.

Director of Thanh Dong Co-operative Ngo Van Tua said farmers grew potatoes the year round, but didn't treat the soil well, leading to crop diseases.

To deal with this problem, the local authorities have encouraged farmers to grow different crops, improve soil quality and eliminate disease after each crop harvest.

Along with this, related agencies will promote commercial deals with other partners to find new markets for the product. — VNS

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