|Farmers harvest grapes in the central province of Ninh Thuan. The province wants to become the largest grape cultivation area in the country. — VNA/VNS Photo Cong Thu
HCM CITY (VNS) — Grape and wine production in the central province of Ninh Thuan is expected to expand in future years as the industry transfers technology, imports more grape varieties and creates a geographical indication for locally produced wine and grapes.
Speaking at a seminar held in Ninh Thuan Province last week during the International Grape and Wine Festival, Bui Nhat Quang, vice chairman of the provincial people's committee, said the province aimed to create the country's largest grape cultivation area.
However, he noted that a number of challenges remain, including climate change, and poor facilities and technologies, which affect grapes' quality and productivity.
In addition, local grapes and grape products cannot compete with imported products.
The festival and seminar gave area farmers an opportunity to learn from local and foreign experts about the latest technologies, and find markets for grapes and grape products such as raisins, jelly, jams and wine.
Le Kim Hung, director of the provincial Department of Science and Technology, said the province should plant two crops each year instead of 2.5 or three a year, with the aim of having higher quality grape crops.
Although the province has 176 grape varieties, it has only selected 131 good varieties, he said, adding that it needed to import more grape varieties.
One of the good varieties, Red Cardinal, has been cultivated since it was imported to Viet Nam in 1970. The province is test-planting varieties of Black Queen, Italy, Red Star, Patchong, NH 01-152, and NH 01-153.
Hung also said the province should boost transfer technology for grape farmers.
He also proposed building a model grape cultivation field in Ninh Phuoc District that would apply advanced technologies. Farmers could also learn about the latest cultivation techniques used on the field.
In addition, the province should continue building a geographic indication for grape and grape products in Ninh Thuan in order to create a brand name for the products in the province, he added.
Linkages among grape growers, producers and experts should also be strengthened to help improve the grape industry, Hung said.
Nguyen Van Moi, vice chairman of the Ninh Thuan Grape Association, said the province should build a research centre on grape and wine.
Moi said the quality of wine was still low and that wine production lacked advanced facilities and technologies.
Wine production needs local raw materials instead of imports from other countries, he added.
He called on businesses to invest in technology transfer in grape cultivation for the farmers.
Tam Hien, a local grape farmer, said farmers in Ninh Thuan Province were facing many challenges, including a lack of raw materials for wine making, advanced technologies and stable outlets for their products.
Raymond Ringhoff, a wine expert who participated in the grape and wine festival, said there was great potential for grape products in Ninh Thuan Province because of the climate and soil there.
"I can see and hope that more wineries will open and more hectares of wines will be planted. I also see great potential in this province for both wine tourism and tourism in general," he told Viet Nam News.
"Wine tourism helps other tourism operators and industries like hotels, restaurants and sightseeing tours," he added.
"I think the Viet Nam tourism industry is on the right track from what I saw and experienced on my 12-day research trip here," he said.
Raymond recommended a variety of activities for wine tourism, including tours of vineyards with knowledgeable guides, wine and food pairing sessions, grape harvest tours that allow visitors to pick the grapes from the vines, and wine tastings and wine education at the tasting room centre.
Grapes, which are a highly valued staple crop in Ninh Thuan Province, were first introduced into the province in 1960 and test-planted by the South Central Centre for Agricultural Technical Research based in Ninh Son District. Commercial production began in the 1980s.
The province has 1,100 hectares of grape fields with an average yield of 25 tonnes of fresh grapes per hectare per year.
The seminar was part of the International Grape and Wine Festival held in Phan Rang-Tham Cham in Ninh Thuan last week.
The festival aimed to enhance tourism and exchanges between grape farmers and businesses, as well as promote investment opportunities. — VNS