Harvested sweet potatoes in Đồng Tháp Province’s Châu Thành District. – Photo baodongthap.vn
ĐỒNG THÁP – Đồng Tháp Province’s Châu Thành District is expanding its growing area for exports of sweet potatoes, which consistently provide high incomes for farmers.
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta district, which is the province’s largest sweet potato producer, increased its sweet-potato area from 1,000ha in 2017 to more than 3,000ha, accounting for 60 per cent of the district’s crop areas.
Farmers produce an average 25 – 30 tonnes per ha and an average profit of VNĐ100 million (US$4,300), up two to three times compared to rice. Traders buy sweet potatoes directly at fields for VNĐ7,000 – 10,000 a kilogramme.
Phan Thanh Dũng, deputy chairman of the district’s People’s Committee, said the district would rezone specialised sweet-potato growing areas and grow them to safe standards to export to markets with high requirements, especially the EU.
The district will diversify its sweet potato – related products and add them to the "one commune – one product" (OCOP) programme, he added.
Sweet potato is one of five key products in the district's agriculture restructuring plan. They are grown year-round mostly in the district’s Tân Phú, Phú Long and Hòa Tân communes.
Farmers plant purple flesh, white flesh and red flesh varieties. The potatoes are high quality and delicious because the soil in the district is especially suited to the tuber.
The district has also set up sweet-potato farmers’ clubhouses and co-operatives and co-operated with companies to secure outlets for farmers. Farmers at the clubhouses exchange information about production and markets once a week or once a month. Experts also visit the clubhouses to provide information about advanced farming techniques.
The farmers’ clubhouses and co-operatives have helped secure outlets through contracts and provided access to advanced farming techniques that increase quality.
Huỳnh Hồng Hải, a member of the An Hòa Agriculture Produce Co-operative in Hòa Tân Commune, said farmers had previously planted sweet potatoes under traditional farming methods which had higher production costs.
Farmers have followed the cooperatives' instructions about proper use of pesticides and fertilisers. “This improved yield and reduced production costs,” he said.
Many companies have signed contracts with the co-operatives to buy sweet potatoes. The Nam Huy Đồng Tháp Co. Ltd in the district’s Hòa Tân Commune has signed a contract with the An Hòa Agriculture Produce Co-operative to buy two tonnes of sweet potatoes a day for drying. The company has registered its dried sweet-potato as an OCOP product. – VNS