Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc spoke at macadamia development conference held on Tuesday in the Central Highlands Province of Đắk Lắk. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
ĐẮK LẮK — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc raised a series of issues regarding how much land should be allocated for macadamia plantations and whether the trees should be cultivated as a sustainable way to reduce poverty at a conference held in Buôn Ma Thuột City in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk on Tuesday.
The conference was attended by representatives of ministries, departments, 23 macadamia growing provinces, businesses and households who discussed the planting, processing and sale of macadamia products.
Considered the "queen of nuts", macadamia nuts are being integrated into the country's agricultural plans because they are regarded among the most delicious in the world and have a high value that can change farmers' lives.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, PM Phúc asked if macadamia could become "the tree that alleviates poverty" in the northwest, the Central Highlands and some other regions of Việt Nam.
The PM applauded the scientists who introduced macadamia trees to Việt Nam and experienced early success. In only five years, output has increased by nearly 25 times. Macadamia has contributed to poverty alleviation, especially in remote and ethnic minority areas.
Praising the Vietnam Macadamia Association, the PM said that people should work together with researchers, scientists and other localities so that macadamia trees could improve people's lives.
Recently, the demand for nuts has increased by 200 per cent.
At the conference, PM Phúc reiterated the opinion of farmer Vy Thị Thanh who said in a dialogue between the PM and farmers on Monday that she had been cultivating macadamia trees for seven or eight years but with little success, recommending strengthened State management of seed to ensure productivity.
Besides, farmers must also be advised which soil should be used for the trees to fruit.
People should increase their plantations moderately where they could, he added, saying he believed that demand for macadamia would continue to increase.
"But how much should we expand to ensure the interests of the people and producers?" PM Phúc said.
The PM also noted the development of the domestic market with a population of nearly 100 million people also meant that macadamia should not be grown solely for export.
Another problem the PM posed was capital for production.
"Which banks are responsible for providing capital and appropriate interest rates for the planting of this poverty alleviation tree?" he asked.
PM Phúc emphasised the country should look at how to process, how to package, and how to develop a Vietnamese macadamia brand. The country had to deal with the brand issue right now, rather than later. Besides, if we want to do this on a large scale, we must have businesses investing in agriculture, so we needed policies to attract businesses to grow, process and organise the consumption of macadamia, he said.
Reports at the conference said that macadamia was first imported to Việt Nam in 1994, starting with 10 trees planted by the Centre for Forest Tree Research under the Vietnam Forest Science Institute in Ba Vì District, Hà Nội.
Up to now, 23 out of 63 provinces and cities in the country plant macadamia trees, with an area of over 16,500ha. Of which, nine provinces in the northwest and Central Highlands have planted over 15,400ha, an increase of 55 per cent compared with the plan, while the remaining of more than 1,000ha are scattered across 14 other provinces.
Regarding output, this year provinces plan to harvest nearly 6,600 tonnes of fresh seed, an increase of nearly 24.5 times compared to 2015. With current selling prices in the form of dried seed at about VNĐ200 million (US$8,600) per tonne, it is estimated that 4,000 tonnes will bring a value of about VNĐ788 billion ($34 million), of which about 60 per cent will be exported and the rest will be for domestic consumption.
Vietnamese macadamia products have been exported with an output of over 2,400 tonnes of dried products per year to Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, the US and France.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường said macadamia trees had a positive impact by creating jobs and improving incomes for about 10,000 rural households. — VNS