|A pink mandarin orchard in Đồng Tháp Province’s Lai Vung District. — VNA/VNS Photo Chương Đài
ĐỒNG THÁP — Farmers in Đồng Tháp Province’s Lai Vung District are expected to supply 80 per cent less pink mandarin, a specialty fruit for Tết (Lunar New Year) festival, compared to the previous last Tết, which falls on January 25.
Huỳnh Văn Tồn, deputy head of the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the output of the district’s pink mandarin had declined dramatically to about 3,500-4,000 tonnes because of the impact of yellow leaf and root rot disease on citrus.
Only 190ha out of the district’s 802ha of pink mandarin can produce fruit now, with an average yield of 20 tonnes per hectare, he said.
However, the quality of pink mandarin for the coming Tết is good.
Lai Vung, which is the largest pink mandarin producer in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta, is well known for the fruit which is used on most family altars in the south during Tết.
Many farmers have also planted pink mandarin trees as ornamental plant pots to sell for Tết decoration.
These pots are expected to sell for VNĐ1.5 – 6 million (US$65 - 260) each for Tết, according to farmers.
It takes about 30 months to grow an ornamental pink mandarin pot.
In the district, pink mandarin trees are cultivated mostly in Vĩnh Thới, Tân Thành, Tân Phước and Long Hậu communes because of the area's soil.
Traders are buying pink mandarin fruit in orchards at a price of VNĐ50,000 ($2.1) a kilogramme. The price could increase to VNĐ70,000 – 80,000 ($3 – 3.5) a kilogramme for a few days before Tết, said farmers.
Nguyễn Văn Đầy, who has planted pink mandarin in Long Hậu Commune for 20 years, said the price has increased by 30 per cent against the same period last year.
However, the output is small, he said. His 10ha pink mandarin orchard is estimated to produce 7 tonnes for the coming Tết, down by 60 per cent against last Tết, he said.
He is using every technique that he knows to treat the disease to revive his orchard for the next crop, he said.
Many farmers are also struggling to recover their orchards from disease which has occurred in the district in recent years and has not been treated thoroughly.
Nguyễn Văn Sữa has used many techniques to treat the disease for his 5,000 sq.m pink mandarin orchard in Long Hậu Commune, but has not been successful.
“My orchard has had almost no harvests for Tết in the past two years,” he said.
The bureau is helping farmers find solutions to recover their pink mandarin orchards. It has been working with agencies and scientists on techniques that can prevent disease on citrus fruits. — VNS