|Growing seedlings in Bến Tre Province’s Chợ Lách District. – VNA/VNS Photo Công Trí|
BẾN TRE – Farmers in Bến Tre Province’s Chợ Lách District are boosting production of seedlings for all kinds of crops to make up for those damaged by drought and saltwater intrusion during the just-ended dry season.
The district, the country’s largest seedling producer, is entering the rainy season like the rest of the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta.
Nguyễn Thị Hồng of the district’s Tân Liềng Commune said the number of seedlings she had grown this year was only equal to 60 per cent of last year’s because of the saltwater intrusion and lack of water for irrigation.
She was growing more to meet the market demand, she said.
But a big difficulty was the shortage of plants required for grafting because of the damage caused by the drought and saltwater, she said.
She had spent more than VNĐ150 million (US$6,500) to buy water but still could not save many of her seedlings.
Besides grafting, farmers here also produce seedlings by growing from rooted cuttings, seeds and air layering.
To ensure they have plants for grafting now many farmers had to grow them elsewhere in the delta during the last dry season and transport them to the district.
Đặng Văn Mi of the district’s Long Thới Commune said he had to grow plants in provinces like An Giang, Vĩnh Long and Đồng Tháp to ensure he would have plants available to graft seedlings to sell come the rainy season.
Seedling prices have doubled from 12 months ago because of the lack of supply, according to traders.
Many like jackfruit, avocado and coconut are in high demand now.
Chợ Lách produces more than 30 million seedlings a year with the main season being the beginning of the rainy season in May, according to the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.
However, the output this year was only 10 per cent of last year, said Bùi Thanh Liêm, head of the bureau.
But farmers were increasing production and would have enough to supply to the market in two to three months, he said.
District authorities have taken many measures to help farmers overcome the adverse impacts of the drought and saltwater intrusion, and taught them techniques to grow seedlings.
Amid the water shortage many farmers had drilled borewells, bought water from other places and used giant nylon bags to store water.
Yet, a large number of seedlings were damaged, according to the bureau.
The district’s seedlings, mostly for fruit trees, are sold all over the country. – VNS