The southern region is entering the peak harvest season for many fruits like durian, mango, rambutan, avocado, mangosteen, and jackfruit, but farmers are suffering from poor harvests.
|An avocado orchard in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province’s Chau Duc District. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Nhi|
In Ben Tre and Tien Giang provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, which have large areas under durian, farmers have been plagued this season by drought and severe saltwater intrusion.
In Ben Tre’s Chau Thanh District, the quality of durian has been affected significantly due to the shortage of water.
Ha Chi Ngon, who has an 8,000sq.m orchard in the district’s Tan Phu Commune, said traders have been offering him VND8,000 (US$38 cent) per kilo, but he has refused to sell since it is too low.
The price was VND48,000 – 50,000 ($2 – 2.1) at this time last year, he said.
He earned an income of VND400 million ($17,200) last year but is likely to suffer severe losses this year because of the low prices, he said.
Many farmers in Ben Tre growing high-value fruits like durian had to buy water to irrigate their orchards, but the fruit quality has still been affected.
Tran Thi Bach Lan in Chau Thanh’s Quoi aCommune paid VND70 million ($3,000) for water to irrigate her 3,500sq.m orchard, but traders have refused to buy her durian because of poor quality and her family had to sell the fruits at local markets and on the roadside. She earned a total of VND50 million ($2,100), or less than the cost of the water.
Ben Tre has 2,000ha under durian, including 1,100ha in Chau Thanh.
In Dong Thap, the price of Thai jackfruit has declined from VND30,000 – 35,000 ($1.3 – 1.5) a kilo at the beginning of the year to VND4,000 – 8,000 ($17 – 34 cent) now.
Traders attribute the price decline to the increase in supply since this is the peak harvest season and difficulty in exporting because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many farmers in Dong Thap have picked young fruits and discarded them to enable the trees to have better fruits later when prices are hopefully higher.
In Binh Duong Province, well known for its mangosteen, output has declined by 40 per cent this year.
The prices of mangosteen grown to Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) standards are VND50,000 – 55,000 ($2.15 – 2.4) a kilo compared to VND50,000 – 80,000 in previous years.
Export difficulties and the competition from imported Thai mangosteen have caused the price decline, according to farmers.
Bui Thi Huong Thao of the Binh Duong Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said besides eating the fruit fresh, many people also use its flesh in dishes like salads.
The latter use means the fruit’s looks do not matter so much, reducing the pressure on farmers, she said.
The flesh is also frozen for consumption later, she added.
In Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, prolonged hot weather has reduced the yield and quality of many fruits like mango, rambutan, durian, and avocado.
Ba Ria – Vung Tau has about 10,370ha under fruits, 2,000ha more than in 2018.
The high prices of fruits in recent years have caused this increase, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
To sustainably develop fruit cultivation, the department encourages farmers to grow fruits to VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards for exports.
It has instructed farmers to use advanced techniques to grow fruits during the off-season to avoid price declines during the peak harvest season. VNS
The Tet (Lunar New Year) watermelon crop has been a lucrative one for farmers in the southern region.
Advanced farming techniques and value chains are needed to tap the potential of fruit cultivation in the southern region, which contains 60 per cent of the country's fruit-growing areas, experts have said.