Thursday, October 27 2016


Salt producers abandon fields as prices fall

Update: May, 14/2016 - 09:00
Salt producers harvest salt in Cát Minh Commune in the central Bình Định Province’s Phù Cát District. Despite the good harvest this year, salt producers are struggling to earn a living because of low salt prices. – Photo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY  -- Salt producers have had a good harvest this year, but low prices are affecting their livelihoods.

This year, farmers in Phù Cát, the Bình Định Province’s largest salt producing district, collected salt on 72 hectares and harvested more than 2,800 tonnes.

The output was seen to be rather high since the weather was favourable for salt production.

However, the salt prices dropped sharply to just VNĐ300 and 400 per kilo, nearly a half of last year’s rate.

Farmer Đinh Phước Trung in Cát Khánh Commune said that the commune still had between 500 and 700 tonnes in stock because market sales had been low due to low prices.

“Many salt producers in the locality have had to give up the job to find another to earn a living,” Trung said.

Trần Thị Hoàng, who works at the famous Sa Huỳnh salt field in Quảng Ngãi Province’s Đức Phổ District, said traders had bought salt directly at local salt fields, paying VNĐ20,000 for 40 kilos.

“In spite of knowing that salt prices are dirt cheap, we still have to sell to earn money to buy rice for the family,” Hoàng said.

Although this year’s salt season started only one month ago, salt prices fell strongly, thus forcing producers to leave many fields abandoned.

Giả Tấn Tàu, vice chairman of Phổ Thạch Commune, told Thanh Niên Newspaper that “sale prices fell strongly while inventory in last year’s season was still 2,000 tonnes. Many salt producers were disappointed and gave up their jobs to find other ones.”

“About 120 salt production households that had a total of 30 hectares have quit the job. This is the highest level to date,” Tàu said.

Sa Huỳnh in the Cổ Thạch Commune is the most famous salt-making area in the central region. The salt season is from March to August.

Salt production has been a traditional job for most farmer families in Sa Huỳnh for hundreds of years.

There are about 587 households in Sa Hùynh, with about 2,000 people producing salt.

“This is the first time in a 20-year period that salt producers in the Sa Huỳnh salt field have been driven into a lamentable situation. If this condition continues, the Sa Huỳnh Salt trade name will be wiped out,” said Nguyễn Thành Út, chairman of the No. 1 Salt Cooperative.

New plans

To protect the salt production industry, local governments in many localities are seeking ways to increase salt producers’ income so as to encourage them to keep the traditional career.

To increase farmers’ profits, local authorities have been urging them in recent years to use advanced techniques.

One such technique involves using plastic or canvas sheets to produce clean salt.

It has the advantage of shorter production period, whiter salt and lower labour costs, but the sheets require a greater investment.

However, most farmers lack the resources to use this method.

Phan Huy Hoàng, deputy director of Quảng Ngãi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the province was outlining detailed planning for the Sa Huỳnh Salt Field in the 2016-2025 period with a vision to 2030.

The main goals are to develop the traditional salt village, regularly increase farmers’ incomes and living standards, and shift from traditional production methods to advanced techniques to ensure food safety as well as meet the demand of people’s use and the country’s industrial production.— VNS     



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