|A farmer in Tiền Giang Province tends to his Thai jackfruit farm. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Trí|
HẬU GIANG — Farmers in the Mekong Delta are rushing to convert their paddy fields or other orchards into Thai jackfruit farms due to high profits in recent years.
Hậu Giang is one of the localities which has a fast-growing area of jackfruit, Nông thôn ngày nay (Countryside Today) newspaper reported.
A kilogram of Thai jackfruit is sold at VNĐ55,000-VNĐ60,000 (US$2.3-$2.6).
“Before Tết (the Lunar New Year), the price of jackfruit was at VNĐ45,000 per kg. But now it is up to VNĐ60,000,” said Phan Văn Tiến, a farmer from Trường Long A Commune, Châu Thành A District.
“The high price makes farmers very happy. A hectare of jackfruit can help local farmers earn VNĐ200-300 million ($8,700-$13,000) a year.”
Tiến said that he had 1ha of land for planting Thai jackfruit and durian. After two years of cultivation, he has more than 1,000 jackfruit trees.
“I earn over VNĐ100 million in this crop, at a price of VNĐ60,000 per kilo,” Tiến said.
Traders in Trường Long A Commune said although the price increased they could not produce enough fruit to meet demand because it was the end of the harvest season.
According to statistics of Châu Thành A District, there are 74ha of Thai jackfruits.
Provincial authorities admitted the area of jackfruit farms has increased rapidly in recent years.
“The area of jackfruit cultivation in Hậu Giang Province has reached 2,000ha, double compared to the same period last year,” said Bạch Văn Sơn, head of the Cultivation and Plant Protection Sub-division.
The high Thai jackfruit price has led farmers in Hậu Giang, Cần Thơ, Bến Tre, Tiền Giang, Vĩnh Long, Trà Vinh and Đồng Tháp to invest in planting.
In Phong Điền District, Cần Thơ City, the price is around VNĐ45,000-50,000 per kg.
According to local growers, the price rose to VNĐ70,000 per kilo last September, helping farmers rake in high profits.
This is also the reason leading to the high increase of Thai jackfruit farms in Tiền Giang Province with thousands of hectares of trees planted, the newspaper reported.
Bùi Văn Thành, a farmer from Thạnh Tân Commune, Tân Phước District, had cut down 1.5ha of pineapples after ten years of cultivation in order to plant 700 Thai jackfruit trees.
Tân Phước District is well-known as the locality with many pineapples in the province with 15,000ha, now Thai jackfruit has been intercropped.
A local agricultural officer said there was no exact statistics for jackfruit areas in the locality. Farmers are destroying the areas for growing other fruits to rush to farm Thai jackfruit.
According to Thành, farmers can get profits as the price of jackfruit is only at VNĐ12,000-15,000 per kilo.
“They can earn a lot as the price at the moment is up to VNĐ50,000-60,000 per kilo. Many pineapple growers convert their pineapple farms into Thai jackfruit farms,” he said.
“Some people from other localities come here to rent or buy pineapple growing land to grow jackfruits.”
Trần Hoàng Minh, an officer of the provincial Farmers Association, said the renting and buying land for planting jackfruit began over a year ago, from Cai Lậy District.
Many farmers from Cai Lậy District’s communes came to Cái Bè and Tân Phước districts to buy or rent land for long term to plant jackfruit and durian.
Some hectares of paddy fields are also being switched to jackfruit farms.
Besides the high price, growing this tree does not require much tending, it is drought-resistant and the tree can produce fruit after 18 months.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), jackfruit trees are not included in the list of the major fruit development plan of the Mekong Delta provinces.
Head of agriculture and rural development office of Phụng Hiệp District, Tiền Giang Province, Trần Văn Tuấn, said farmers have actively converted areas of rice or ineffective fruit trees to jackfruit.
However, due to the increase of this tree, the local agricultural sector has advised farmers to be cautious when changing crops, avoiding oversupply when the market was not stable, Tuấn said.
Most of this product is sold to China.
A farmer in Cai Lậy Township said he knew risks might occur when farmers rush to plant jackfruit.
If supply exceeded demand, prices would drop sharply as happened to some other fruits, Phan Văn Lượm said.
But he said he could not stand to see people planting jackfruit and earning high profits.
“I plant 700 Thai jackfruit trees. My life will change if the price keeps increasing and I will lose it all if it drops,” Lượm said.
Jackfruit areas of Tiền Giang Province has increased to 3,700ha and will continue to increase strongly because people are improving land to expand jackfruit area when prices are high, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Hậu Giang Province has 2,000ha of Thai jackfruit trees.
Thai jackfruit cultivation area of the whole Mekong Delta region is estimated to be 55,000ha. — VNS