NINH THUAN — A pilot project to grow red-flesh dragonfruit, a sweeter version of the white-fleshed fruit, has yielded big profits for farmers in the central province of Ninh Thuan.
Since planting the fruit trees in April 2010, farmer Tran Cam has total sales of more than VND20 million (US$950) and a profit of VND10 million from two harvests from his 1,000 sq.m, 500-tree dragonfruit orchard.
Cam and five other farming households in Ninh Hai District were chosen to participate in the pilot project, which comprised a total of 5,000sq.m.
The red-flesh dragonfruit suits the area's hot climate and dry, pebbly soil, according to Tran Huu Nhan, head of the district's Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.
The bureau, which implemented the pilot project, provided 60 per cent of investment capital to the farmers, and taught them cultivation techniques.
In addition, the district bought 1,500 dragonfruit stem cuttings from neighbouring Binh Thuan Province to provide to participating farmers.
Ha Thi Hoa said she and many farmers were worried that they would not have enough money to create support poles for the dragonfruit plants, and were concerned about the yield in their less-than-nutritious soil.
But their anxiety proved to be unfounded.
"Profits from red-flesh dragon fruit have been higher than that from other plants or trees," she said. "Because it is a new fruit on the market, traders come to my orchard to buy it at a high price."
Although the price sold at orchards is VND15,000-20,000 a kilo, the initial investment to plant 800-1,000 dragonfruit trees is nearly VND100 million, according to Hoa.
Early this month, participants at a meeting with the bureau said the project should be expanded because it could provide a stable income for local farmers.
When mature (two years after planting), the red-flesh dragonfruit plant yields seven to eight harvests a year for up to 20 years. — VNS