Coconut farmers not make much profit despite high prices

The Mekong delta region is home to 130,000 hectare of coconut, accounting for 78 percent of the whole country. Over 1.9million farmers in the region earn income from coconut, yet very a few of them can make rich from the tree.
 

Coconut farmers not make much profit despite high prices

For past many days, dried coconuts in Mekong delta was purchased at VND120,000 – 150,000 or VND90,000- 100,000 for 12 coconuts for the first and second class. The price is relatively high to ensure coconut growers to have profit.
Farmer Ho Ngoc Tha in Giong Trong District in Ben Tre province said he has five acres of paddy field and 70 coconut trees. Due to salinity intrusion, income from paddy fields is little and the family live on coconut garden.
Farmer Nguyen Thi Xinh said that this year farmers have earned more because coconut prices have increased yet the productivity is not as much as expected due to last year it was drought and salinity.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ben Tre province said after a long fluctuation of coconut price, from 2013 until now, its price is high around VND7,000 a coconut. Before, because of low price, some farmers destroyed their coconut garden or left it abandoned but they now invest in the garden.
Statistically, Ben Tre Province has 163,000 households with average areas of 0.4 hectare of coconut gardens per household.
Scattered production, shortage of labor force and difficulties in transportation have resulted in high prices. The Department of Industry and Trade said that each household in Ben Tre Province earns VND60-68 million per hectare annually while their pomelo, dragon and rambutan counterparts earn income of VND600-700 million ($26,405), VND500 million and VND350-400 million for a hectare a year.
In comparison, coconut growers in ben Tre Province and other provinces can’t make rich from the tree.
Having the largest area for growing coconut in the Mekong delta, Ben Tre Province authority takes much heed to growing the major tree. For past years, Ben Tre authority has implemented scientific projects and programs to raise coconut value.
Party Chief Vo Thanh Hao said coconut is the province’s major tree; moreover, the vast garden of the tree is like lung for the province. However, the concern is that coconut growers still lead a difficult life because their income is not as high as expected for various reasons.
Relevant agencies should help farmers change their tradition of growing and increasing in their income from the tree.
Agriculture experts said in the context of climate change, growing coconut has certain advantages. Deputy chairman of Ben Tre Coconut Association Nguyen Trung Chuong said to raise coconut growers' earning, they should intercrop coconut with other tree or animal. For instance, coconut and cocoa are grown as intercrop or breeding waterfowl, shrimp, bee for honey in coconut garden.
Before, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ben Tre province helped locals to pilot shrimp feeding in coconut garden. The pilot-program was very efficient as farmers' income rose.
At present, the model of intercrop is being reproduced in communes Thoi Thanh, Tan Phong, Phuoc Hiep, Dinh Thuy, An Thanh, Thuan Dien in the area of 500ha.
Along with intercropping, processing coconut products plays a pivotal role in raising value of the tree.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said after the government poured investment in, over 200 handicraft made from coconut have been displayed. Enterprises also beef up production of food such as tinned coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut candy for export.
Coconut products are exported to 84 nations and territories earning $150-170 million a year.
Director of Dua Ben Tre company Tran Van Duc said thanks to application of technology in processing, the coconut industry made breakthrough in the field.
However, in comparison with other countries in Asia and the world, Vietnam's coconut processing industry is in fresh without strong and big factory. Accordingly, the government needs to invest in more to improve its competitiveness. It is inevitable trend to satisfy demand of customers in the world.
A leader of Ben Tre province noted processing coconut has been verified as major industry with growth goal of 12.4 percent a year by 2020. In the next time, more investment will be poured into the industry.
Moreover; connection between farmers and enterprises and producing more value-added products from coconut will be improve in hope to increase the income for the farmers.

By HUYNH PHUOC LOI – Translated by UYEN PHUONG

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