The third Coconut Festival opened last night, April 5, in Ben Tre City in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, with several cultural activities to highlight the areas native fruits and agricultural products.
The opening ceremony for the five-day festival took place on a floating stage on Truc Giang Lake in Ben Tre City, attended by Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan and Laos's Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad, along with more than 5,000 local residents, coconut farmers and representatives from provinces that grow coconut trees in the country.
|Third Coconut Festival opens in Ben Tre Province (Photo: SGGP)|
The festival will also include a coconut products exhibition and a Vietnamese goods trade fair, with the participation of 250 enterprises. High quality products in agriculture, industry, aquaculture, garments and textiles, and construction material will be featured at the festival.
The festival themed “Ben Tre’s coconut on path of development and integration” has attracted businesses specialising in producing and processing coconut products for the Asian and Pacific Community.
Nguyen Van Hieu, chairman of the People's committee of Ben Tre Province, said in his opening speech that coconut trees have become an important means of income for several households in the province. There are now hundreds of products made from coconuts and coconut trees.
Comprising of three islands separated by the main tributaries of the Mekong Delta, Ben Tre is one of the most isolated provinces in the delta and has long been described as the "land of coconuts and the biggest province cultivating coconuts in Vietnam”, he stressed.
During the past years, coconut prices have reduced but local farmers kept investing in their coconut farms. The trees are not only a spiritual and cultural icon, but an economic advantage in the province, Hieu said.
Coconut trees are meaningful to the economic life of residents in Ben Tre. More than 500,000 people of the province's total population of 1.3 million live on work related to the coconut tree.
Ben Tre has the largest area of coconut farms in the country, about 52,000 hectares. Last year, more than 400 million coconuts were harvested, contributing half of the country's coconut yield.
The revenue of products related to coconut trees contributes up to 25 per cent of the province's product turnover and are being exported to 60 countries and territories.
Vice President Doan has encouraged Ben Tre, home of the Dong Khoi uprising movement against pro American forces, and other provinces to expand cultivated areas of coconut trees and invest more in factories for coconut processing.
"Coconut trees not only have economic value, but scientists need to pay more attention to the purpose of planting the tree," she said, adding that markets for products from the tree should be expanded.
The vice president, who expressed happiness to see the development in the province, also urged scientists to improve research to arrive at a better coconut strain, which could help increase the income of farmers. Developing craft villages for tourism development would also create more jobs.
The festival includes an art installation for a coconut road, coconut food festival, coconut plantation tour and a coconut carnival, celebrating the future of coconuts, as well as a seminar on how to increase the value of coconut products, and a ceremony to honour coconut farmers. A beauty contest, ‘Miss Coconut Land’ will also take place.
Held by the provincial People's Committee under the direction of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the festival is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Dong Khoi Ben Tre, or the uprising of local residents against the US-backed Sai Gon regime.
The event also offers business people and investors an opportunity to access the economic potential of the province for eco-tourism, historical and cultural relics, and particularly coconut products.
More than 250 booths display coconut products and demonstrate techniques of coconut planting, harvesting and processing.
Also featured will be a food festival, a conference to call for investment in industrial park infrastructure, and a seminar on raising the value of coconut products.