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Passion fruit switch could taint supply

Update: June, 28/2014 - 11:07
HCM CITY (VNS) — More farmers in Dak Nong Province are planting passion fruit trees to reap the benefits of a price increase, despite warnings from authorities that there could be an oversupply.

Ha Van Nam in Gia Nghia Town's Dak Nia Commune, for example, recently cut down two hectares of coffee trees in order to plant passion fruit.

"If I replanted my coffee trees, I would have to spend about hundreds of millions of dong and wait for a few years to have a coffee harvest," he said. "Passion fruit vines take a shorter period to bear fruit."

It takes about six months for passion fruit vines to produce fruit.

Mature passion fruit vines have four major harvests a year and yield 80-100 tonnes per ha a year.

Nam estimated that if the price of passion fruit was from VND7,000-8,000 (US$0.3-0.38) a kilo, his family would have a good profit from 2ha of passion fruit.

Passion fruit has been planted in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highland) province since 2007.

Pham Hung Vy, deputy head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Plant Cultivation Bureau, said when passion fruit was planted for the first time in the province, the department planned to develop only 200ha of the fruit.

However, it has contracted with Phu Thinh and Tia Sang Co-operatives to supply passion fruit seedlings for farmers in order to control the quantity and quality of seedlings, Vy said.

However, the price of passion fruit has increased and passion fruit farmers have earned high profits, he said.

The rapid increase of passion fruit area will lead to a threat of disease outbreaks, he said.

Passion fruit vines can become infected with powdery mildew and bacterial blight.

Many farmers grafted passion fruit seedlings by themselves, increasing the risk of disease, Vy said.

Most farmers who grow passion fruit beyond the zoning area are not trained in growing techniques.

Farmers that have chopped down perennial trees to replant passion fruit trees have also affected the province's cultivation structure.

The total area of passion fruit in the province has increased to nearly 1,000ha, mainly in Dak Glong and Dak Rlap districts, according to the department.

Meanwhile, passion fruit processing plants in Dak Nong can buy only 200ha of passion fruit, said the department.

Nguyen Van Xuyen, director of the Dak Nong –based Nghia Duc One Member Co., Ltd, said his company had bought passion fruit for at least VND20,000 ($0.95) a kilo in previous months.

However, the supply is abundant, and the company has reduced the purchase price, he said.

Traders are now paying VND5,000-6,000 a kilo for the fruit. — VNS


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