Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – Provinces in the Mekong Delta that grow coconut are setting up cooperative teams and finding buyers to help farmers recover from low prices over the last 12 months.
The delta has about 130,000ha of coconut, accounting for nearly 79 per cent of the country’s total. Bến Tre and Trà Vinh provinces have the largest coconut areas in the delta.
As prices have been very low for around a year, coconut farmers are making little profit.
The price of mature coconuts in Bến Tre and Trà Vinh is currently between VĐ20,000 and VNĐ45,000 (US85 cents– US$1.9) per dozen, compared to about VNĐ80,000 per dozen last year.
Nguyễn Hữu Lập, deputy chairman of Bến Tre Province People’s Committee, said the province was building a coconut value chain to improve incomes.
The province has set up co-operative teams and co-operatives that now have a combined 2,139 households that plant 1,600ha of coconuts.
Companies have guaranteed outlets for the coconut output of these households.
The province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in co-operation with agencies is acting as a link to connect farmers and companies.
Three Bến Tre-based companies, Lương Qưới Coconut Co., Ltd, Bến Tre Import and Export Joint Stock Corporation (BETRIMEX), and Asia Coconut Processing Joint Stock Company, have promised to buy coconuts from farmers with contracts at a minimum price of VNĐ50,000 ($2.1) per dozen for mature coconuts.
Since last year, the three companies have purchased 10.5 million mature coconuts and 217 tonnes of fresh mature coconut meat from farmers.
According to Nguyễn Văn Trọn, head of the Hưng Lễ Commune co-operative team to renovate coconut orchards in Bến Tre’s Giồng Trôm District, the co-operative has 59 members who grow a total of 62ha under organic farming methods.
All coconut output of the co-operative teams is purchased by BETRIMEX.
“Participating in this co-operation model, coconut farmers now have many advantages, including guaranteed outlets and stable prices.”
The organic farming method, which has helped improve the soil, does not pollute the environment.
Huỳnh Quang Đức, deputy director of the Bến Tre Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that it was important to raise awareness of farmers about coconut value chains, and that farmers should use advanced techniques to improve yield and quality.
Bến Tre has more than 72,000ha of coconut with annual output of more than 600 million nuts, accounting for 42 per cent of the country’s total area, the country’s largest coconut producer, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Of the province’s coconut area, 80 per cent are planted to harvest mature coconuts, while the rest is for young coconuts that can be used for drinking.
Coconut farmers in Bến Tre have an average income of VNĐ68 million ($2,910) per hectare a year.
Trà Vinh has nearly 20,000ha of coconut, second to Bến Tre. The province has identified coconut is one of its key agricultural trees.
The province is applying advanced farming techniques and developing markets.
Starting this year to 2020, it will spend more than VNĐ12 billion ($514,000) for coconut varieties that can survive in drought and saltwater intrusion, as well as for assistance to farmers who grow coconut under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) standards.
Phạm Minh Truyền, deputy director of the Trà Vinh Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province would use available resources to help coconut processors diversify their products.
It would call for investors to build a plant to produce canned coconut water, coconut powder, and handicraft products made from coconuts, he said. – VNS