Vietnam’s southern regions are entering their peak harvest season for many fruits like durian, mango, rambutan, avocado, mangosteen, and jackfruit, but farmers are suffering from poor harvests.
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 8,000 VND (38 US cent) per kilo, but he has refused to sell since it is too low. The price was 48,000 – 50,000 VND (2 – 2.1 USD) at this time last year, he said.
He earned an income of 400 million VND (17,200 USD) 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 Thanh commune paid 70 million VND (3,000 USD) 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 50 million VND (2,100 USD), 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 30,000 – 35,000 VND (1.3 – 1.5 USD) a kilo at the beginning of the year to 4,000 – 8,000 VND (17 – 34 US 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.