|Customers choose vegetables at the Co.op Mart in HCM City. Food prices began returning to normal on Sunday, the seventh day of the Lunar New Year. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HA NOI (VNS) — Food prices began returning to normal on Sunday, the seventh day of the Lunar New Year, at markets in Ha Noi, due to abundant supply.
A bundle of water dropwort cost VND15,000 (60 US cents), just a half from its price during Tet while the price of carp fell from VND130,000 ($5.8) during Tet to VND100,000 ($4.4) a kilo after Tet.
During the Tet holiday, vegetable prices increased remarkably, up double or triple compared to pre-Tet prices.
For example, a kilogram of lettuce cost VND100,000 ($4.4) on the third day of the Lunar New Year whereas pre-Tet it was between VND30,000-40,000.
Traders attributed the increase to the prolonged cold weather before Tet, which affected the growth of vegetables and the scarcity of supplies at wholesale markets.
A similar situation was seen with aquatic products as their retail prices increased due to limited supply but high demand. A kilo of carp cost VND130,000 ($5.8) during Tet, an increase of 44 per cent compared to before Tet.
Pork and beef prices saw little change due to low consumption.
In HCM City, the price of fresh food increased by between 20 and 30 per cent compared with normal prices. Traders blamed the price hike on the high cost of transportation during the holiday.
According to the domestic market department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, there was an abundant supply of commodities during the Tet holidays. Many stores and markets near residential areas reopened on the second day of the Lunar New Year and most supermarkets and convenience stores began operations on the sixth day of the Lunar New Year.
Commodity prices at supermarkets remained stable or rose slightly compared to the pre-Tet period due to abundant supply.
Farmers and businesses earned good profits from organic rice, vegetables and fruits, as demand spiked during Tet last week.
Pham Minh Thien, deputy director of the Co May Agriculture Company based in Dong Thap Province, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that his firm sold nearly 500 kilogrammes of straw mushroom worth VND80 million ($3,600) in just one day.
The company grows the mushrooms to VietGAP standards that safeguard the soil and eco-system and consumers' health, he said.
"We have invested in research into the technology of seed production and separation. We do not use fertilisers or plant protection chemicals to grow our products."
Since demand for organic vegetables is huge, his company plans to expand the area of cultivation though the task is difficult, he added.
Dam Van Hung, owner of the Huong Mien Tay Farm in Ben Tre Province, said that in the future farmers would switch to organic farming to meet demand.
"We need more training in growing organic vegetables as well as resources to expand cultivation areas."
Hung's farm produced 100 tonnes of green-skin grapefruit to VietGap standards for supermarkets like Co.op Mart, Citi Mart and Big C in HCM City, and they were sold out a week before Tet.
"I got many orders from supermarkets and dealers in Ha Noi and Mekong (Cuu Long) Delta provinces, but I did not have products to offer them," Hung said.
He is set to sign contracts with co-operatives and distributors in Vinh Long Province to sell organic vegetables and fruits this year.
"My output is not enough to offer organic products to big markets like HCM City and Ha Noi. I think local agricultural authorities should support farmers with funds to develop their farming. They should also help farmers and enterprises propagate information about organic vegetables so that they can take their produce to customers."
In HCM City, a five-year plan to expand the cultivation of organic and safe vegetables was approved by the People's Committee last year.
It envisages expanding the area under organic and safe vegetables from 15,000 hectares now to more than 16,300ha by 2020.
"Local authorities should provide low-interest loans and launch promotion campaigns for safe vegetables and attractive packaging to meet the market's high expectations with regard to quality," Nguyen Lam Vien, general director of Vinamit Joint Stock Company, said.
"They also should promote research, as well as transfer and apply new technologies to production of organic and safe food products". — VNS