HCM CITY (VNS)— The watermelon he grew may be sweet, but for Nguyen Van Dong it has been a bitter harvest this year as the price of the fruit has dropped dramatically.
|Farmers harvest watermelon in Ha Tam Commune, Dac Po District, in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. Thousands of farmers are facing severe losses due to plunging prices. — VNA/VNS Photo Sy Huynh
Dong of An Khe town in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai said he had planted one hectare of watermelon this year and recently harvested nearly 30 tonnes. He could get a mere VND1,500 per kilogramme for it, meaning he lost nearly VND50 million (US$2,300).
He is one of thousands of farmers in the Central Highlands who are facing severe losses after the fruit price fell from VND7,000-8,000 per kilo last year.
Farmers blame the fall on China, a major buyer, which has reduced purchases.
With the harvest not complete yet, farmers fear prices will fall further since local traders have cut back on buying.
Ca Van Dong, a trader who buys the fruit in the Central Highlands and central region, said after the prices plunged many traders who had paid advances to farmers simply wrote them off.
In Dak Lak Province's Ea Sup District, farmers are fearful since they cannot find traders any longer.
Ea Sup has around 400ha under the fruit, according to its Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.
Tran Van Long, deputy head of the bureau, said watermelon has been grown here since 2000 and most of it has been exported to China.
Last year it had fetched a high price, so more farmers planted the fruit this year, he said.
He feared that a part of the crop could be left in the fields to ruin.
Many farmers in the Central Highlands have resorted to selling their watermelon along roads in the hope of reducing losses.
In the section from Kon Tum city to Dak To District in Kon Tum Province, many farmers have in fact set up tents along the road for this purpose. —VNS