Conditions ripe in Bến Tre Province for developing coconut industry

February 20, 2024 - 09:45
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province is the country’s largest coconut producer, and exports US$300 million worth of coconut products annually.
An organic coconut grove in Bến Tre Province’s Thạnh Phú District. – VNA/VNS Photo Công Trí

BẾN TRE – Bến Tre Province will have more favourable conditions to develop coconut farming following the recent decision by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to make the nut a key industrial crop.

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province is the country’s largest coconut producer, and exports US$300 million worth of coconut products annually, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Some 70 per cent of the province’s population have livelihoods related to coconut, it said.

The ministry has approved a plan to designate coffee, rubber, tea, cashew, pepper, and coconut as key industrial crops.

The plan envisages having a total of 195,000-210,000ha of coconut, including 170,000-175,000ha in the Cửu Long Delta, 16,000-20,000ha in the south-central coast and 9,000-15,000ha in the north-central and south-eastern regions.

It will include 30 per cent grown to good agricultural practices (GAP) or equivalent standards.

The programme will focus on developing both fresh and processed products, high-value products such as smokeless coconut shell charcoal, oil, dried flesh, canned milk and juice, coconut fibre mattress, and handicrafts products.

It also aims to develop villages and production establishments which make coconut products to serve tourists.

Huỳnh Quang Đức, deputy director of the department, said making it a key industrial crop would take the position and scale of the coconut industry, especially Bến Tre’s, to new heights at home and abroad.

The brand names and prestige of Việt Nam’s coconut products would be enhanced and they would have the opportunity to expand to foreign markets, he said.

Socio-economic and cultural activities and services centred on the coconut, like tourism, cultivation and processing, could be further fostered, he said.

The province would benefit from national support policies and development orientation, he said.

Coconut could become a key crop in coping with the growing impacts of climate change, he added.

Nguyễn Văn Tám in Giồng Trôm District’s Châu Bình Commune said his family’s income was mainly from coconut farming but prices had been low in recent years.

Farmers were glad that coconut had been named a key industrial crop since they would benefit from development policies, he said.

To improve coconut farmers’ incomes, Bến Tre encourages the establishment of linkages between various stakeholders in the value chain.

Of the province’s 78,000ha of coconut orchards, 23,747ha have such linkages, including 18,525ha planted to organic standards, according to the department.

It aims to increase the organic growing areas to 20,100ha by 2025, mostly in Mỏ Cày Nam, Mỏ Cày Bắc, Châu Thành, Giồng Trôm, Thạnh Phú, and Ba Tri districts.

It has taught farmers organic techniques including making organic fertilisers.

It has established on a pilot basis six concentrated coconut growing areas with a total of 2,202ha, and they are proving effective.

Of the six, five with an area of 2,162ha grow organic coconuts for their flesh and the other grows young coconuts for juice.

The province encourages farmers to establish co-operatives and co-operative groups to link up with companies.

It has 32 co-operative groups and 30 co-operatives that have developed value chains for their coconuts.

They include the Thới Thạnh Agriculture Co-operative in Thạnh Phú District’s Thới Thạnh Commune for its nearly 150ha of organic coconuts grown by 85 members.

Phạm Văn Hà, a member, said his family had been farming 1.7ha for four years and the co-operative bought all his mature coconuts at higher than market prices.

“Besides, members are also taught how to make organic fertilisers to help reduce costs.”

Besides growing and buying coconuts, the co-operative also does semi-processing of organic coconuts for the Lương Qưới Coconut Co. Ltd located in Châu Thành District. – VNS