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Bitter fruit: farmers suffer huge loses as produce prices plunge

Bitter fruit: farmers suffer huge loses as produce prices plunge

Farmers in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s agricultural production hub, are hurting as produce prices plunge by almost 80 percent in the wake of pandemic provoked distribution challenges. – VnExpress International

Bitter fruit: farmers suffer huge loses as produce prices plunge

Sweet potatoes at the warehouse of a cooperative in Binh Tan district, Vinh Long province, September 17, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Chau Thanh

Son Van Luan, 67, director of a cooperative in Vinh Long Province’s Binh Tan district said farmers were suffering huge losses because sweet potato prices have dropped steeply.

Before the Lunar New Year in February, Japanese purple sweet potatoes were bought and exported to China for VND1 million ($43.71) per 60 kg. However the price has dropped by about 85 percent to VND150,000-160,000 per 60 kg now.

At the current, it is impossible to cover the investment, said Luan, adding that potato growers have never had such a difficult time. Many have decided not to plant a new crop, considering the pandemic situation, he said.

Binh Tan was the province’s main area for Japanese purple sweet potato cultivation at 12,000-13,000 ha. However, the area has dropped to around 7,000 ha. “There are about 600 hectares with an output of nearly 2,000 tons that are ready for harvesting. The low selling prices have made life very difficult for farmers,” said Nguyen Van Tap, Chairman of the Binh Tan District People’s Committee.

Meanwhile, in the province’s Binh Minh Town, farmers growing the Nam Roi pomelo on about 2,000 hectares with an output of about 23,000 tons per year are in similar trouble.

Before the fourth Covid-19 outbreak starting in April, this pomelo variety sold for VND10,000-14,000 per kg, but this has fallen to just VND2000-9000 now, depending on the size and weight of the fruit.”This price is the lowest in the past 10 years. It is impossible to cover the cost of fertilizers, pesticides, and labor,” said 54-year-old farmer Nguyen Thi Suong.

A boat brings baskets of Nam Roi pomelo to Binh Minh Town, Vinh Long Province. Photo by VnExpress/Chau Thanh

A boat brings baskets of Nam Roi pomelo from southern Vinh Long Province. Photo by VnExpress/Chau Thanh

In Soc Trang Province and Can Tho City, the prices of many specialty fruits have fallen to very low levels. Traders are buying rambutan for VND5,000-6,000 per kg, while different types of longan are bought for VND6,000-30,000 – two to three times lower than prices before the fourth Covid-19 outbreak.

Explaining the reason for the falling prices Luan said sweet potatoes were mainly exported to China. Since the country has stopped importing produce over the last several months, the price has dropped very quickly.

Meanwhile, HCMC is a big consumer market for the Nam Roi pomelo. Losing this market due to the pandemic has heavily affected its price.

“I used to sell 8-10 tons of pomelo every day to HCMC wholesalers. In the last three months, the pandemic has made selling to that market almost impossible,” said Nguyen Thanh Quy, a fruit wholesaler in Binh Minh Town.

He said the market was shrinking while output remained the same, so wholesalers had to reduce their purchase prices.

According to the Institute for Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, agricultural production value in the Mekong Delta accounts for about 40 percent of the national total. The region’s rice production accounts for 50 percent of the national total, aquatic production for 65 percent and fruit production for 70 percent.

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