|A farmer inspects an areca palm plant in the northern province of Thanh Hóa. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Amid reports of substantial acquisitions of young areca palm by Chinese traders, Nguyễn Như Cường, head of the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has cautioned farmers on over-cultivating areca palm at the detriment of other crops.
Cường warned that widespread areca palm cultivation could lead to an oversupply crisis and emphasised the importance of keeping abreast of market trends.
He said this was not the first time Vietnamese areca palm has been in high demand, saying similar events took place several years ago in the Red River Delta and the Central Highlands.
"Traders have been buying areca palm through cross-border channels, not as part of any official trade quota between the two countries. Areca palm is not recognised as a major food source in Việt Nam, and the country currently has no planning for the production of areca palm," he said.
"It's important to remember it may take between three to five years to harvest areca palm. Farmers must remain very cautious about its future demand," Cường added.
He said there has likely been a surge in demand for areca palm in the Chinese market, but it's just as likely to diminish in a near future.
"Areca palm does not belong in the category of major food sources such as rice, fruit and vegetable. Even the demand for areca palm in the domestic market is rather limited," he said.
"We have seen this many times in the past. Once traders stop buying, farmers will almost certainly have to deal with the aftermath,"Cường said.
The department advised farmers not to abolish other crops to grow areca palm to avoid incurring potential financial losses.
In the event demand proves stable, farmers and local authorities should work together to build a proper plan for the development and production of areca palm, as well as to establish a trade protocol secured by long-term contracts and official export channels, rather than dealing directly with traders.
The department's official stand is to advise against growing areca palmin large numbers as it is not considered a food source.
A similar incident occurred last year with farmers in the Mekong Delta growing off-season dragon fruits. As traders abruptly stopped buying, farmers were left to suffer tremendous financial losses. — VNS