|Red mandarin orchards in Đồng Tháp Province attract tourists. – VNA/VNS Photo Chương Đài|
HCM CITY – Farmers who grow red mandarins in Đồng Tháp Province’s Lai Vung District expect to earn a good profit during the Tết (Lunar New Year) festival which falls on February 16.
Quýt hồng Lai Vung (Lai Vung red mandarin), a specialty fruit of the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province, is one of the favourite fruits for the New Year holiday because of its beautiful colour, thin skin, few seeds and special flavour.
Lưu Văn Ràng, who owns a 3,000sq.m of red mandarin trees in Lai Vung, said: “The weather was inclement last year, so the fruit output for Tết is expected to decline by one- third compared to normal years” but the price has been increasing.
The quantity of red mandarin supplied for Tết may decline because of early ripe red mandarins, according to farmers.
Longer months and an early rainy season have caused premature ripening of red mandarins before the lunar New Year, which is the peak harvest season for the fruit.
The district has harvested more than 30 per cent of red mandarin so far, according to the district’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
In Long Hậu Commune, which has about 449ha of red mandarin trees and is the largest red mandarin cultivation area in Lai Vung, many farmers have applied advanced farming techniques and received high yields despite inclement weather.
Lưu Văn Tín, who has 6,500sq.m of red mandarin in Long Hậu, said the use of advanced farming techniques had increased quality and yield despite the inclement weather.
He expects to harvest about 60 tonnes of red mandarin this Tết, up 10 tonnes against last New Year time.
Last month, traders from HCM City and other Delta provinces offered to purchase in advance red mandarin for Tết at a price of VNĐ22,000-30,000 (US$1- 1.3) a kilo, he said.
With this price, his family can earn a profit of more than VNĐ1 billion ($44,000).
Besides red mandarin, the district has more than 1,000ha of quýt đường (sweet mandarin).
In recent years, many mandarin orchard owners in the district have turned their mandarin orchards into eco-tourism sites.
Nguyễn Văn Đầy, who offers tourism services at his 1.5ha orchard with red mandarin, sweet mandarin and orange trees in Long Hậu Commune, said he receives about 120-130 visitors a day.
With advanced farming techniques, the trees can bear fruit off season, serving visitors year round.
Located on the Hậu River, one tributary of the Mekong River, Lai Vung has fresh water year round and fertile soil suitable for growing red mandarin fruit.
Ornamental red mandarin trees
Red mandarin trees planted in pots as ornamental trees for Tết in the district are in high demand this year. The price for each pot is VNĐ500,000 – VNĐ10 million ($22- 440).
It takes more than two years to grow a pot of red mandarin. The techniques of growing the trees in pots are complicated, so few orchard owners grow them in pots.
The Red Mandarin Cultivating Co-Operative Team in Lai Vung’s Vĩnh Thới Commune has produced about 700 red mandarin pots for the coming Tết, equal to last Tết.
Most of the co-operative team’s red mandarin pots have been purchased in advance by traders and companies.
Lưu Văn Ràng, who is head of the team and has produced about 80 red mandarin pots for Tết, said he sold a large, beautiful red mandarin pot with many fruits at a price of VNĐ8 million ($350).
Mai Quốc Hậu, head of the district’s Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, said the district has encouraged farmers to grow fruit trees, especially red mandarin trees, as ornamental trees for Tết. This will help increase income for farmers, he said.
The district has more than 840ha of red mandarin, mostly in Long Hậu, Tân Thành and Tân Phú communes.
The district expects to supply about 25,000 tonnes of red mandarin for the coming Tết, down nearly 10 tonnes against last Tết because of bad weather, according to the bureau. – VNS