A farmer of Bồ Lý Commune harvesting custard apples. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thảo
VĨNH PHÚC — Growing custard apples has helped poor farmers in northern Vĩnh Phúc Province escape from poverty in recent years.
Previously, farmers in Bồ Lý Commune of Tam Đảo District just planted the fruit tree in their fields and gardens.
After many years of experience, they found the trees were suited to the climate and soil conditions so they decided to grow the trees on large scale at the feet of mountains and hills.
The people then started to apply science and technology to their farming work, so the custard apples of Bồ Lý Commune have good quality and are favoured across the country.
“Previously, the custard apples in Bồ Lý Commune used to be mainly grown in small gardens because they were not identified as main crops bringing high incomes to locals,” said Trần Nam Thanh, the commune People’s Committee chairman.
“Over the past 10 years, when the fruits were more and more known and loved by many customers, the area of the tree cultivation was extended year by year,” said Nam.
Many rice fields which had low productivity were shifted to custard apples, Nam said.
Today, about 300 households in the commune grow the trees on a total area of 120ha, double the figure of five years ago.
“Bồ Lý is a poor mountainous commune. The terrain is divided, causing difficulties for agricultural production,” said Đỗ Xuân Hoan, chairman of the commune’s farmers’ association.
“However, thanks to knowing how to exploit the potential, the Bồ Lý people boldly converted the crop structure to put the custard apples in commodity production,” said Hoan.
Many households of the commune have escaped from poverty thanks to the fruit.
The economic efficiency from the fruit is calculated to be 5-7 times higher than growing rice, corn and beans.
The commune is now covered with the green of the trees.
Unlike planting and taking care of the fruits previously, now the farmers have been guided to apply cultivation techniques such as fertilising, watering, trimming, and pollinating so the productivity is much higher.
The fruit tree will bear fruits for the first time two years after being planted and from the third year on, the trees bear fruit continuously.
Thus, comparing to other fruit trees, the custard apple tree requires quite a short time.
According to Hoan, the custard apple trees grow thicker than other perennial fruit trees and each hectare can hold 800 trees.
However, in Bồ Lý Commune, the trees are sparser due to the hilly areas.
Thanks to these techniques, custard apple-growing households can earn about VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) per crop.
Bùi Huy Hoàng in Trại Mái Hamlet has 1,400 trees and last year, the trees got their first fruits and he earned VNĐ60 million (US$2,600). This year, his family expects to get VNĐ150 million (US$6,500) for the crop.
The price of the fruit ranges from VNĐ45,000 to 75,000 (US$1.9-3.2) per kilo.
According to Trần Thị Ngọc Bảo, a trader of Bồ Lý Commune, at the peak of crop, she could buy 1.3-1.4 tonnes of the fruit a day.
The development of custard apple trees on the hilly land in Bồ Lý Commune has helped reduced poverty in the area.
In May 2018, the Bồ Lý custard apples were granted a certificate of trademark registration by the National Office of Intellectual Property of Việt Nam.
This helped increase the fruits’ values and create opportunities to expand markets. — VNS