|Mature coconuts are harvested in Trà Vinh Province’s Châu Thành District. – VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hoà|
TRÀ VINH – Local authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh are encouraging farmers to expand cultivation of organic coconuts to increase profits.
The province, the country’s second largest coconut producer after neighbouring province of Bến Tre, has more than 23,000ha of coconut trees with an annual output of 578,000 coconuts, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
About two-thirds of the province’s coconut areas are for mature coconut harvests and the rest for young coconuts used in drinking juice.
The province’s coconut growing areas are located mostly in the districts of Càng Long, Tiểu Cần and Châu Thành. Last year, the department helped 202 households in Tiểu Cần District’s Tân Hoà Commune to grow coconut under organic standards on a total area of 220ha.
Under the model, the households were taught how to grow and tend organic coconuts. The households are part of the Tiểu Cần District-based Tân Thành Agriculture Co-operative, which secures them a selling price of 5 – 10 per cent higher than the market price with outlets.
Nguyễn Văn Chính, who grows organic coconut in Tân Hoà, said previously most farmers used traditional methods such as chemical fertilisers, which resulted in a lower quality of coconut.
Orchard owners growing organic coconut do not breed livestock and poultry in their orchards, and use only organic fertilisers and bio-products. The coconut trees develop well and have a yield 10 – 20 per cent higher than traditional growing methods.
Thạch Ngọc Thành, deputy chairman of the Tân Hoà Commune People’s Committee, said that many households growing coconut in the commune have switched to the organic method.
The People’s Committee is encouraging orchard owners to turn their mixed orchards and old coconut orchards into organic ones. It has asked the owners of new coconut orchards to grow other crops as well to have income while they wait for coconut trees to bear fruit.
It normally takes about two to three years for a coconut seedling to grow and begin to have nuts.
Over the past three years the price of mature coconuts bought directly at orchards by traders has been high, VNĐ85,000 - 90,000 (US$3.7 – 3.9) per 12 nuts, mostly because of a coconut shortage for coconut processors in Trà Vinh and other Delta provinces.
In the delta, most coconut orchards in Trà Vinh and Bến Tre provinces saw their yield drop by 40 per cent because of the impact of saltwater intrusion in 2019 and 2020.
Huỳnh Khắc Nhu, general director of the Trà Bắc Joint Stock Corporation in Trà Vinh City, said he needs about 500 tonnes of coconut a month to manufacture coconut products like desiccated coconut, coconut milk, activated charcoal, coconut fiber and coir carpets for export.
However, the supply of coconuts in the delta has not met demand so the company has had to import coconuts from Indonesia since last year.
Phạm Minh Truyền, director of the department, said the province’s agricultural restructuring plan encourages coconut cultivation. The province is helping farmers grow clean coconut products and increase value for farmers. In 2021–25, the province plans to develop 12 coconut growing models in which farmers will link up with coconut processors to grow coconuts under farm contracts on a total of 1,800ha.
The province targets having 30,000ha of coconut by 2030, with organic coconut areas accounting for 5,000ha. – VNS