TIỀN GIANG — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tiền Giang is expanding its specialized growing zone for dragon fruit, a fruit that has helped several local farmers grow rich.
According to Huỳnh Văn Bườn, head of the agricultural and rural development bureau of Tân Phước District, the district has been growing the fruit for only a few years, but has nearly 600ha under the fruit, mainly red-flesh dragon fruit.
Around 350ha of the latest crop have been harvested, yielding 7,000 tons, he said.
The communes with the largest areas planned now are Tân Lập I with 172ha, Thạnh Tân (120ha), Thạnh Mỹ (60ha), and Tân Hòa Đông (40ha).
Nguyễn Văn Rỡ, chairman of the Thạnh People’s Committee, said the fruit has become his once sleepy commune’s key economic product thanks to its economic value and demand in foreign markets.
Farmers growing the fruit can now rely on it for their main income, he added.
One such farmer is Phan Văn Khanh, who owns a 1.5ha red-flesh dragon fruit orchard. It produces 30 tons of the fruit per hectare per season. Thus, this year he has earned around VNĐ1 billion (US$43,000) from selling 30 tons of the fruit at an average price of VNĐ30,000 per kilogram. He has become rich thanks to the fruit.
Võ Văn Dũng of Thạnh Hòa Commune, Tân Phước District, also has a 1.5ha orchard. Last year, he harvested 40 tons and earned VNĐ1.2 billion as the fruit’s price soared to VNĐ46,000. He said the fruit can help locals become rich.
Cát Tường Company, an agricultural processing firm in Tân Phước, grows red-flesh dragon fruit to global good agricultural practices (GAP) standards on 100ha due to the high yields and export demand.
Bườn said the soil of the Plain of Reeds region (which spans Long An, Tiền Giang and Đồng Tháp provinces) is extremely suitable for growing dragon fruit.
He said to increase productivity and quality for export, the district would send technical staff to train farmers in the application of global GAP standards.
Besides, the district has helped farmers establish co-operatives and farmers groups to build a value chain for dragon fruit, he said.
The fruit has dominated Vietnamese fruit exports this year with shipments being worth $427 million in the first four months, a year-on-year increase of 9 per cent and accounting for 32 per cent of all vegetable and fruit exports.
The value was nearly four times that of the next two below it – longan ($121 million) and mango ($104 million).
Bình Thuận Province is dubbed the “dragon fruit capital” but it is also grown in several other southern provinces. — VNS
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