Vietnam: Plenty of good fruit but low prices

Le Van Thai, a farmer in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Vinh Long, is getting ready to harvest a bumper crop of rambutan in his 5,000sq.m orchard, but he is not a very happy man. His bumper crop is no guarantee that he can make a profit. Thai, who lives in Long Ho District's Hoa Ninh Commune, has found it difficult to find an outlet for his rambutan and is having to sell the fruit for just VND1,700-2,000 (nearly US$0.1) a kg. Costs not covered. "The money from selling rambutan is not enough to cover the cost of buying fertilisers and pesticides," he said. Thai is among many Vinh Long farmers who are in trouble because they are not able to find stable outlets and good prices for their produce. The prices of several other fruits are also in decline during the harvest season.

The Nam Roi grapefruit, a provincial speciality, is now being purchased by traders for VND7,000-8,000 (nearly $0.4) a kg, down by half against the same period last year.

The difficulty in applying national and global cultivation standards in small-scale farms makes it difficult for fruit grown in the province to compete in both domestic and overseas markets, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Department director Phan Nhut Ai said the province is yet to arrange for fruit cultivation on a large scale. Some medium and small-scale areas specialising in fruit cultivation have been set up, but the fruit quality is not even and output is not stable, he said. Ai said the province has, in recent years, paid attention to setting up brand names for speciality fruits such as Tam Binh Orange and Binh Minh Nam Roi grapefruit which are cultivated under Global Good Agriculture Practices (Global GAP) standards. However, some growers were not able to maintain their registered brand names because of financial difficulties, he said.

Previously, the My Hoa Nam Roi Grapefruit Co-operative and the Hoang Gia Private Enterprise had been granted Global Gap certificates for cultivating Binh Minh Nam Roi grapefruit. While Hoang Gia has been able to renew its certification, the My Hoa Nam Roi Grapefruit Co-operative does not have enough money to apply for renewal. The Hoang Gia Private enterprise now exports thousands of tonnes of Nam Roi grapefruit to the US and EU every year. Provincial authorities are hoping more enterprises will invest in building fruit brands under Global GAP standards so as to boost exports, Ai said. He said the province would always create favourable conditions for enterprises to invest in establishing international brand names for fruit, including the cost of applying for the Global GAP certificate for the first time.

The province is now trying to build a brand identity for the Tuc Khanh rambutan in Tra On District's Tuc Thien Commune, which will be cultivated under Global GAP. Vinh Long has a total of 350,000ha under fruit cultivation that gives a yield of more than 350,000 tonnes a year. The main fruits grown in the province are king oranges, grapefruits, mangosteen, longan and rambutan.


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