Currently, both the prices of dried and fresh coconut in Ben Tre are low despite in the off-season.

The price of the dried coconut remains at 2,000-2,500 VND/piece for more than one year, especially the price of fresh coconut is from 35,000-45,000 VND/dozen. Having harvested more than 800 coconuts sold for 30,000 VND/dozen, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Tham, Chau Binh commune, Giong Trom district, Ben Tre, earned nearly two million VND after deducting labor costs. With the current income, Mrs. Tham worries if this situation lasts further, farmers will face many difficulties.

Coconut prices are low even in the off-season.

After the Lunar New Year, Mrs. Tham hoped that in the off-season, the price of dried coconut will increase sharply. However, coconut prices are still at a low level without profits. After Mrs. Tham sold coconuts for 30,000 VND/dozen, a few days later, the price of coconut decreased by 3,000 VND/dozen. Mrs. Tham said that last year, the price of coconut was low. More than 6,000 m2 of coconut only brings her family more than 18 million VND in the whole year. As a result, they do not have enough money for living and coconut care is also limited.

According to Mrs. Tham, in the off-season, coconut production is low and the price of coconut is decreased. Farmers do not have enough money to invest in coconut. Besides, the drought season is going to affect the quality and output of coconut in the coming time. Specifically, coconuts are not fertilized, there is not enough money to hire laborers for taking care of trees, and lack of money to regenerate nutrients for coconut. Coconut production is forecast to decrease shortly.

In Binh Dai district, the price of coconut has fallen sharply over the past year. There were times, the price was only 1,000 VND per piece, causing losses for farmers. Mr. Tran Van Toi, Phu Vang commune (Binh Dai) has 0.5 ha of 20 years old coconut, on average, he can harvest over 600 pieces per month. At the same time in previous years, coconut cost from 70,000 to 80,000 VND/dozen, on average, his family earned more than 3 million VND each period. For more than one year, the price of dried coconuts has continuously decreased, there were times when the price was only 12,000 VND/dozen, equivalent to just over 1,000 VND per piece. With a low income, for more than one year, the coconut garden is only fertilized once.

According to Mr. Toi, on an average of 1,000 m2 of coconut, farmers fertilize three times a year and the total investment costs are more than 4 million VND/1,000 m2/year. With the current low price of coconut, money from selling coconut is only half of the investment for coconut trees. Not only dried coconut, but the price of fresh coconut is also low in the off-season. Mr. Nguyen Van Tam, Giao Long commune, Chau Thanh district (Ben Tre) shared that every year in the summer, the price of fresh coconut will increase sharply due to increased market demand. However, this year, the price of coconuts is only half of the price of previous years.

Currently, fresh coconut type 1 cost 45,000 VND/dozen, if purchasing without sorting, the price is 30,000-35,000 VND/dozen. Mr. Tam shared, with the current coconut price, farmers do not have enough money for daily life and investment costs for coconut trees. The price of more than 65,000/piece may help farmers afford to take care of their families.

Mr.Huynh Quang Duc, Deputy Director of Ben Tre Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that: The situation of dried coconuts dropping in price for more than one year is in the general context of the world. According to Mr. Duc, Ben Tre coconuts are exported to more than 50 countries. After the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries with large coconut areas such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines have a backlog of goods.

Ben Tre has proposed to central ministries and departments to promote trade and access to new markets, however, the situation is still very difficult.

Mr. Duc said that China after the pandemic has not been cleared. The province is negotiating with China as well as the US. As long as these two markets are opened, the price of coconuts will increase again.

On the other hand, Ben Tre province is encouraging households to produce coconuts organically and cooperate with enterprises for coconut deep-processing, especially dried coconuts. Then, enterprises will buy coconut products from farmers with higher prices from 5,000-15,000 VND/dozen. Coconut growers will have a stable output and prices will always be higher than the market prices, making more profits for farmers.

Ben Tre has over 78,000 ha of coconuts, accounting for 80% of the coconut area in the West of Vietnam and 50% of the country’s coconuts. More than 75% of people in the province live thanks to coconut trees./.