Vietnam's Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An will expand cultivation of organic dragon fruit, primarily in Chau Thanh district, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Nguyen Chi Thien, deputy director of the department, said the authorities in the district, department and companies had piloted an organic dragon fruit model in Thanh Phu Long, Phu Ngai Tri and Duong Xuan Hoi communes that turned out to be highly efficient.
Nguyen Ngoc Tai, who cultivates 520 organic dragon fruit in Duong Xuan Hoi commune, said the model does not use chemicals and pesticides, and produces a high yield.
Organic dragon fruit plants are guaranteed outlets and sell for prices 10 per cent higher than the market price, he said.
Chau Thanh, which has the largest dragon fruit growing area in Long An, has more than 9,000ha of dragon fruit.
Nguyen Quoc Trinh, chairman of the Long An Dragon Fruit Association, said localities should encourage farmers to expand the pilot models, which will help increase both yield and quality, and open up possibilities for exporting to demanding markets.
Long An, the country’s second-largest dragon fruit producer, after only the south-central province of Binh Thuan, has nearly 12,000ha of dragon fruit, including nearly 2,100ha planted with efficient irrigation facilities and other advanced techniques.
Efficient irrigation helps farmers save 50-80 per cent on irrigation water compared to manual irrigation and 10-40 per cent on fertiliser, reducing production costs by two to four million dong ($86-172) per hectare a month, according to the department.
Among other cooperatives that have received assistance, the Thanh Phu Long Agriculture Cooperative in Chau Thanh’s Thanh Phu Long commune last year received instruction in growing techniques under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) from the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance. The alliance also helped them build a brand name for their dragon fruit and informed them of the importance of origin traceability.
After this, the cooperative signed contracts to supply dragon fruit to various supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City.
Dragon fruit is one of Vietnam’s nine key crops that have competitive advantages in the world market. However, most dragon fruit farmers in the country have unstable incomes because they have not have secured outlets.
Dragon fruit is cultivated in 30 cities and provinces nationwide, with Binh Thuan, Long An and Tien Giang provinces, accounting for 93 per cent of the country’s total dragon fruit growing areas.
Binh Thuan has 29,000ha of dragon fruit and Tien Giang has 8,000ha.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK