Cassava farmers in Gia Lai Province are in dire straits, unable to sell their produce even after prices have plunged below production costs. — Photo baodatviet.vn
GIA LAI – Cassava farmers in Gia Lai Province are in dire straits, unable to sell their produce even after prices have plunged below production costs.
They have also suffered a steep decline in productivity.
Cassava prices in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province have dropped to VND30,000-35,000 (US$1.3-1.5) per 100kg, much less than last year, a Nông Thôn Ngày Nay (Countryside Today) report says.
Last year, cassava prices reached VNĐ1,800 per kg or VNĐ180,000 per 100kg, prompting farmers in the region to cultivate them.
“After months of planting and care, we are getting just VNĐ35,000-40,000 for 100kg, what you pay for a bowl of phở (beef rice noodles),” lamented Lê Văn Thành, a cassava grower in Chư Drăng Commune.
Thành said cassava had been a key crop helping farmers in Krông Pa District escape poverty over several years now, but prolonged drought has affected its yield and quality.
Other crops were similarly affected, he noted.
Cassava productivity this crop dropped by half over previous years, Thành said.
"Last crop, I harvested about 30 tonnes of cassava per hectare, but this year, I’ve got just 17-18 tonnes. The drop in productivity and prices is a heavy loss and we don’t know what to do for the next crop,” he added.
The report says farmers had to invest over VNĐ15-20 million (over $670-897) per hectare for planting cassava, but were able to recover just VNĐ5-6 milllion ($224-270) after harvest.
Farmers are harvesting the crop now, but the low prices have prevented many traders from buying it, push farmers even deeper into hopelessness.
Đinh Văn Duyên, head of the Agriculture and Rural Development bureau in Krông Pa, said the area for cassava cultivation reached 15,000ha for the 2015-16 crop.
But the area planned for cultivating this crop was just around 8,500ha.
“Every year, farmers have rushed to grow this plant, despite warnings,” Duyên said.
The low prices at present badly affected farmers’ incomes and lives, he added.
The local authorities are trying to guide and advise farmers cultivate others plants in order to improve their land and earn more money.
Nguyễn Văn Vũ, a local farmer planted 1ha of grass for breeding cows instead of cassava. He said that he earned more from planting grass.
A representative of the FOCOCEV Joint Stock Company, which purchases cassava from local farmers, said the decrease in prices was due to fluctuations in cassava starch prices in domestic and world markets.
Last year, the average selling price was US$350-360 (VNĐ7.8-8 million) per tonne of cassava starch, but now it is just $270-280 ($6-6.2 million) per tonne, the company said. -- VNS