Harvesting jujube in Phước Dân Town in Ninh Thuận Province. – VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thành
NINH THUẬN – The south-central province of Ninh Thuận, the country’s largest jujube producer, is expanding the area under the fruit and developing a value chain for it.
With its hot, dry weather, the province has ideal conditions for growing the fruit.
Many farmers in the province have switched to jujubes from other low-yielding crops under the province’s plan to restructure agriculture and adapt to climate change.
Jujubes begin to fruit and are harvested starting one year after planting. The fruits are harvested two or three times a year, and the average annual yield is 40 – 50 tonnes per hectare.
At the current price of VNĐ10,000 per kilogramme, the annual income per hectare is VNĐ400 – 500 million (US$17,300 – 21,600), according to farmers.
Nguyễn Thi, who has a 2,000sq.m orchard in Ninh Phước District’s Phước Dân Town, said he harvested nine tonnes in the last crop and earned VNĐ70 million ($3,000).
Traders came to his farm and bought the fruit at VNĐ8,000 – 12,000 per kilogramme, he said.
The initial cost of farming 1,000sq.m of jujubes is around VNĐ25 million ($1,080), including the cost of seedlings and input materials.
The province has 1,020ha under the fruit, mostly in Ninh Phước, Ninh Sơn and Ninh Hải districts and Phan Rang – Tháp Chàm City.
It plans to increase this to 1,200ha next year and annual output to 54,000 tonnes, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Phạm Dũng, head of the province’s Plant Cultivation and Protection Sub-department, said value chains comprising co-operatives and co-operative groups are being developed.
The province is also zoning areas that grow the fruit to Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) or organic standards, he said.
Many farmers use nets to cover their orchards during their fruiting period to protect them from pests, especially the Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly.
The insect causes severe damage to jujubes by laying eggs in them. When the eggs develop into larvae, they eat the fruits.
Besides controlling pests, the nets also protect the fruits from strong winds, rains and sunshine.
The quality of jujubes in net-covered orchards is vastly superior since farmers are not afraid of pests and let them ripen properly on the tree before harvesting them.
The department in co-operation with localities encourages farmers to adopt this technique and transfers techniques to farmers for growing Táo Bom NT 05, a new jujube variety.
The variety, created by the province’s Nha Hố Research Institute for Cotton and Agriculture Development, is green when ripe, crunchy and two to three times larger than other varieties.
To diversify jujube products, the province has support policies for businesses producing syrups, jams, wines, and juices.
It is developing a tourism model that involves visits to jujube orchards, which will also enable farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers and get extra incomes from providing tourism services.
The province has identified the fruit as one of its 12 key products. – VNS