|A production chain for refined sugar at the Son Duong Sugar and Sugarcane Company in Tuyen Quang province. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh
HCM City (VNS)— Sugar processing plants face a shortage of raw materials as Mekong Delta farmers have shifted to other agricultural products after many years of losses from cultivating sugarcane.
The sugarcane area in the Mekong Delta in the 2015-16 crop fell by 6,000 hectares compared with the last crop, according to the Viet Nam Sugar and Sugarcane Association (VSSA).
Hau Giang province has the biggest area of sugarcane cultivation, but it declined by 1,500 ha to a total of 11,600 ha.
"Many farmers in my village shifted their cultivation from sugarcane to other fruits because of long-term losses," Le Van Doi, 3A village, Vi Tan commune, Vi Thanh city, Hau Giang Province was quoted as saying in the Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) newspaper.
Farmer Le Van Chieu, who lives in 2A village, said that his family had 1.3 ha for sugarcane cultivation. He sells his products to the Vi Thanh Sugar Plant at a cost of VND830 (0.4 cent) per kg.
"We have a profit of VND3 million (US$140) for 10 months of cultivation or VND250,000 ($11) per month, even lower than rice cultivation," he said.
Thanh So Phanh, deputy head of the Tra Vinh Province's Tra Cu District's Agriculture and Rural Development Sub-department, said his district fell by 600 ha because farmers had changed to raise fish and cultivate fruit.
Nguyen Hoang Ngoan, deputy general director of Can Tho Sugarcane and Sugar Joint Stock Company, said that his price for raw materials was higher than that regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
However, farmers said that sugar plants had complained about the lower quality of sugarcane and cut prices.
To cope with the situation, Truong Canh Tuyen, deputy chairman of the Hau Giang People's Committee, has told the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development to work with Science and Technology Departments, VSSA, sugar plants and representatives of farmers to send samples of sugarcane to Can Tho University for testing.
"The sugar industry will be faced with a shortage of raw materials this season because sugarcane production in the Mekong Delta will reach only 3.2 million tonnes, a decrease of 486,000 tonnes compared with last season," Nguyen Thanh Long, chairman of the VSSA, said.
He warned that a price war would occur among sugar plants competing for raw materials.
"The sugarcane industry must seek solutions to the long-term shortage of raw materials for production," he said.
The new season for sugar plant operation begins in early September. — VNS