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Dragon fruit farmers urged to ally for collective bargaining

Update: April, 16/2016 - 15:28
Dragon fruit growers should work together to ensure stable outlet for their products, said Director of Bình Thuận Province’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mai Kiều.– Photo baobinhthuan.vn

BÌNH THUẬN – Dragon fruit growers should work together to ensure stable outlet for their products, said Director of Bình Thuận Province’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mai Kiều.

They should not only focus on growing organic dragon fruit, but also be proactive in marketing and managing the price of the product, he said, adding that farmers should help themselves by rearranging their farming models.

“It’s necessary to expand the cooperative and farmers’ alliance model to unite farmers with each other from production to export,” Kiều said.

He also emphasised the need to maintain focus on organic production, cutting short mediator activities and preventing traders from manipulating prices.

With 16,000ha devoted to dragon fruit, Bình Thuận has the largest area allocated to the fruit in the country, with the area’s annual output topping 350,000 tonnes.

According to Bùi Đăng Hưng, chairman of the Bình Thuận Dragon Fruit Association, the province’s dragon fruit have been exported to high demand markets such as the United States, the European Union, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

However, Asia is still the dominant market with 70 per cent of the fruit exported to China through unofficial trade.

This trade is risky as Vietnamese businesses depend on their counterparts for price and consumption.

Businesses and farmers have suffered losses despite having a bumper crop as farmers’ profits were eaten up due to the extremely low price in the domestic market.

To expand the export market, dragon fruit growers must follow strict regulations on everything from working the soil, using fertilisers, taking care of dragon fruit trees, harvesting, packing and preservation. Yet many dragon fruits farmers do not have capability to do all these things.

Từ Tấn Thời, a representative for the Nam Thuận Việt Cooperative, said once a farmer joined the cooperative, as a member they would have the chance to share their experiences of growing dragon fruit, and have the ability to manage the market price in a way that limited dumping strategies and the power of traders to set the price for market.

“A large-scale fruit growing area will create favourable conditions for the sale of products via contract compared with small scale production,” he told Tin tức (News) newspaper.

“Setting up a farmers’ group or farmers’ alliance would help,” Thời said.

Bình Thuận Province has a plan to limit spontaneous dragon fruit cultivation and instructs growers to follow VietGAP standards (Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practice), Kiều said.

He said that the province would promote the setting up of a dragon fruit farmers’ group in the future, and focus on the business benefits a farmers’ group could gain through scaled-up consumption contracts, he said.

In the Mekong Delta province of Tiền Giang, another large dragon fruit growing area, growers have joined together under the Mỹ Tịnh An Dragon Fruits Cooperative to develop their production in a sustainable way.

The cooperative has taken the initiative in signing contracts with members and asked them to grow dragon fruit according to VietGAP standards. The cooperative has pledged to buy all the products at a price higher than market price. -- VNS

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