Macadamia crops could pay rich dividends for Viet Nam

Update: July, 19/2014 - 11:11

HA NOI (VNS)— The macadamia plant can be a good choice for farmers in the north-western and Central Highland regions seeking to improve their income, said experts at a seminar in Ha Noi.

The macadamia nut is dubbed the "the Queen of Nuts" for its outstanding nutritional value. Experts said that compared to other common edible seeds such as almond and cashew, macadamia is high in fat and low on protein. They have the highest amount of mono-unsaturated fats of any known seed.

The plant, indigenous to Australia, was introduced to Viet Nam in 2002 for trial cultivation by Former Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Cong Tan. Local scientists have tested and found that the north-western and Central Highland regions have conditions best suited for the plant.

In fact, macadamia grown in Viet Nam has produced the same and even higher yield than those grown in Australia – the world top grower of the plant.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said with the current price of US$15 per kilogram, farmers in Viet Nam could earn between US$2,000 and $3,000 per hectare.

He also added that with proper processing investment, the value of the fruit could triple, and could be 20 times more if the fruit was used for cosmetic production.

He said, when Viet Nam joined the global coffee market, the area of coffee planted in the world was already more than one million hectare.

Viet Nam entered the race late but in a short time made a breakthrough with more than half a million hectare, he said, adding that this fact caused an imbalance in the world's coffee demand and supply.

All coffee exporting countries lost out in this race, he said.

"But that's not going to happen with macadamia. The current cultivated area for macadamia in the world at present is rather small, and so is the yield," Tan said.

Hoang Hoe, former Director of the Institute of Forest Ecology and Land Use Planning, said the global demand for macadamia would be 10 times higher than coffee.

According to Nguyen Tri Ngoc, Director of the Thanh Tay Institute for Agro-Forestry Technology Research and Development, Viet Nam has all the conditions required for the cultivation of macadamia.

Meanwhile, Bui Xuan Trinh from the Government Office, cautioned that as macadamia was a new plant, it was necessary for everyone to tread carefully. He said there would need to be a specific plan to connect farmers and enterprises to ensure a stable market for the product.

Participants discussed measures to introduce the plant as a new option that could ensure profits to farmers, thus expanding its cultivation, as well as investment in processing.

Viet Nam currently has about 2,000 hectares of macadamia with an average output of 3 tonnes per hectare.

Pham Thanh Hai, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the IDT Company, said the macadamia project in Dien Bien Province, which was started in 2012 on more than 50 hectares, had brought about a fruitful harvest.

The trees grew well and adapted well to the weather of the northwest area, and the rate of trees staying alive was more than 98 per cent, while the quality of the fruit was outstanding, he said. — VNS