Installing compact lamps in a dragon fruit orchard in Bình Thuận Province. – VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thanh
BÌNH THUẬN – The south-central province of Bình Thuận, the country’s largest dragon fruit producer, is expanding cultivation of dragon fruit under Vietnamese and global Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP and GlobalGAP) standards.
Such standards help farmers save on fertiliser and pesticide costs, and promote sustainable production.
Phan Văn Tấn, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that more advanced farming techniques were being used such as efficient irrigation systems and compact lamps that stimulate off-season growth as well as trellises on which dragon fruit vines grow.
These techniques improve quality and reduce production costs.
Dragon fruit from the province is exported to many countries, including China, the US and Australia.
The Thuận Tiến Dragon Fruit Co-operative in Hàm Thuận Bắc’s Hàm Liêm Commune grows dragon fruit to VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards and exports fruit to the US, Australia and the EU.
Trần Đình Trung, chairman of the co-operative, said its 52 members cultivate a total of 70ha of dragon fruit and have a profit margin of 35 – 40 per cent.
Võ Hồng Chiến, one of the members, grows 4ha to GlobalGAP standards and harvests about 120 tonnes a year, earning a profit of about VNĐ1 billion (US$43,200) a year.
Besides purchasing dragon fruit for its members, the Thuận Tiến cooperative signs contracts with other farmers and co-operatives that buy their dragon fruit.
The province has 30 co-operatives that grow dragon fruit to VietGAP and Global GAP standards. In addition to selling fresh dragon fruit, many co-operatives produce dragon fruit wine and syrup, and dried dragon fruit.
As of the end of last month, the province had 10,200ha of dragon fruit grown under VietGAP standards, up 200ha against last year, according to the department. Hàm Thuận Nam, Hàm Thuận Bắc and Bắc Bình districts top the province in having the largest area of VietGAP quality dragon fruit.
The province also has more than 260ha of dragon fruit planted to GlobalGAP standards. The department and other agencies have helped farmers improve the quality of dragon fruit, including researching new dragon fruit varieties.
Nguyễn Phú Hoàng, chairman of the province’s Farmers Association, said that farmers had received help to access soft loans and quality seeds. The association has also encouraged farmers to switch from dragon fruit grown under traditional methods to advanced farming techniques.
The province has nearly 30,000ha of dragon fruit with an annual output of 600,000 tonnes, according to the department.
Dragon fruit is a key product of the province. – VNS