|Farmers havest dragon fruit in Long An Province's Duong Xuan Noi Commune. A lack of disease-free seeldings is threatening fruit exports in the delta. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
TIEN GIANG (VNS) — Mekong Delta provinces are rich in orchards with many kinds of fruit for export, but a shortage of disease-free seedlings is threatening the industry.
Nearly 300,000ha of orchards in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region produce 3.5 million tonnes of fruit each year - 44 per cent of the total output of fruit for the whole country.
The director of the National Agriculture Promotion Centre, Phan Huy Thong, told a seminar on disease prevention that Vietnamese fruit was exported to more than 60 countries and territories.
Dragon fruit, the main export product, accounts for over most of this export turnover.
In the first seven months of the year, the delta region exported more than 160,000 tonnes of special fruit to the US, Japan, South Korea and China, earning more than US$1 billion for farmers, he said.
While this presented a great opportunity to join deeply into the world market, the higher exports of fruit was leading to a huge increase in planting areas - and diseases.
Thong said that by the end of August, more than 8,690ha of dragon fruit in Binh Thuan, Long An and Tien Giang provinces had been hit by disease.
Thousands of hectares of orchards in other provinces, including Dong Thap, Vinh Long, Ben Tre, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang and Can Tho, were also affected.
According to experts, the supply of disease-free seedlings was not well organised due to the high cost of investing in infrastructure.
They said that the State still lacked comprehensive policies to manage the spread of non disease-free seedling.
Knowledge in preventing diseases and applying effective preventive measures is low.
Nguyen Van Hoa, head of the Southern Orchard Institution, said that to limit the spread of infected diseases, farmers should cut down diseased trees before planting again. — VNS