Update: 10:38 | 10/12/2019
Farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang have begun harvesting off-season dragon fruit, earning high incomes.
In recent years, farmers have been using advanced farming techniques to grow off-season dragon fruit to avoid an oversupply during the main harvest season. The off-season is normally between December and March, with harvests three to four times a year.
Farmers tend dragon fruit in Tien Giang Province’s Tan Phuoc District.
Sau Long, who has a 1.1ha red-flesh dragon fruit orchard in Cho Gao district, had a yield of one tonne of dragon fruit in the first off-season harvest and sold the crop for 28 million VND (1,200 USD).
Traders have bought red-flesh dragon fruit for 28,000 VND a kilogramme, up 6,000 VND compared to last month. Tran Van Chon in Cho Gao’s Trung Hoa commune said he would harvest nearly two tonnes of off-season dragon fruit in the next few days.
With the increase in price, he expects to earn a high profit, he said.
Cho Gao district, which has the largest dragon fruit growing area in the province, has more than 4,500ha, mostly red-flesh dragon fruit with an average yield of 30 tonnes per hectare a year, according to the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Tran Van Hoa, head of the bureau, said that dragon fruit is the district's specialty fruit and is mostly exported, with China the largest export market. To promote dragon fruit cultivation, authorities have provided farmers with advanced farming techniques to produce off-season dragon fruit.
They have also introduced cultivation models under which Vietnamese and global good agricultural practices (VietGAP and GlobalGAP) are applied. Farmers are encouraged to join co-operatives and co-operative groups.
Participating farmers can buy input materials with deferred payments and are given part of the cost for applying for VietGAP certificates, he said. As a member, Thuy earns a profit of 500 million VND (21,700 USD) a year from his 1.1ha dragon orchard.
The My Tinh A Dragon Fruit Co-Operative has 30ha of dragon fruit planted to GlobalGAP standards. The co-operative has worked with companies in HCM City to export dragon fruit to many countries, including the US.
Dragon fruit co-operatives in the province have established dragon fruit growing areas that meet VietGAP or GlobalGAP.
The province’s dragon fruit farmers can earn an average profit of 300-360 million VND (13,000-15,600 USD) per hectare a year, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Tien Giang, the country's largest fruit producer, has more than 8,400ha of dragon fruit, accounting for about 10 percent of the province’s total fruit area.