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Ginger farmers look set for a miserable Tết

Update: January, 10/2017 - 09:05
Growers in the southernmost province of Cà Mau’s Thới Bình District harvest gingers. The price of ginger has dropped to an unprecedented low this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Trần Quốc La
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Farmers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta face financial hurdles in the upcoming new year, with the price of ginger dropping to an unprecedented low.

The ginger rate the merchants had to offer this year reached only VNĐ3,000 (13 US cents) a kilogram, half the price last year. This marked the second year the ginger prices falling sharply after a couple of years earlier farmers got to make quite a living from growing the plant. On the eve of the Tết (Lunar New Year) season in 2015, gingers were sold at around VNĐ50,000 (around $2) for a kilogram.

Trí Lực Commune has the biggest ginger field in Thới Bình District in the southernmost province of Cà Mau. Some 35 out of 40ha of ginger in the whole district lies in the commune, which has seen a fivefold decrease of ginger fields from 200ha in 2015 due to falling prices.

A Trí Lực resident Nguyễn Văn Nhật told Nông thôn Ngày nay (Countryside Today) newspaper yesterday that the selling price of VNĐ3,000 did not cover the cost of hiring people to harvest the ginger roots.

“Deducting the average hiring cost of about VNĐ1,000 for a kilogram of ginger, we only earn some VNĐ2,000 a kilogram,” he said.

“I sold just seven tonnes of ginger, and suffered a loss of nearly VNĐ40 million.”   

The ginger cultivated specifically for Tết holiday was ready to be harvested, but many farmers were hesitant to sell up due to the record low rate.

Farmer Bùi Văn Lớn was among them. His family had about 1,300 sq. m of ginger which produced about 30 tonnes of ginger this year.

“I will lose at least VNĐ30 million if I sell the ginger now at this price,” he said.

“I will just store (the ginger) and wait till the price goes up.”

Another farmer, Nguyễn Văn Tranh living in Phụng Hiệp District in Hậu Giang Province faced a similar problem.

“Never before has the ginger price been this low,” Tranh said.                                     

“I still have about 150 sq. m of gingers ready to be harvested but I will wait for higher prices. If I sell it now, I will only earn some VNĐ1.5 million, while the hiring cost for ginger harvesters is nearly VNĐ1 million alone.”

The falling price of ginger this year only added to the misery of the farmers as a lot of ginger fields were damaged by diseases triggered by a prolonged rainy season.

Phụng Hiệp District Agriculture and Rural Development Division Vice Head Nguyễn Thế Tự said that the long rainy season created favourable conditions for bacteria to harm the ginger plants. Many ginger fields were destroyed by the diseases, harming production in the district, he said.

Phụng Hiệp resident Phạm Thị Bé Sáu said that nearly 3,000 sq. m of ginger her family cultivated had been infected with diseases.

Her family only managed to save about 200-300 kg of gingers, a poor harvest compared to 37 tonnes from the same field last year.

“We gave up. We will not harvest anything with such low production and such a low price,” she said.

“We would lose about VNĐ80 million,” she said. “Ginger farmers just won’t have Tết this year.” – VNS     

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