Despite being in the main harvest season, not many coconuts in the Southwest region were exported. Traders only bought at 1,500-2,900 VND.
Mr. Phan Van Dinh, 68 years old (Binh Thanh, Giong Trom) has a 2,000 m2 coconut garden that is more than 10 years old. Pointing to the pile of more than 300 coconuts along the way, Mr. Dinh sadly said:
“Once a month, he earns only about one million, just enough to cover the cost of fertilizers without any profit,”.
Mr. Phan Van Dinh with the newly harvested coconuts. According to him, the money earned is only enough to cover the cost of fertilizers.
Mr. Dinh’s family specializes in the coconut type for making oil. During the “golden age”, the price of a dried coconut was about 10,000 VND, which brought him and other farmers many profits. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of dried coconuts has continuously decreased to even 1,000 VND. Then, he switched to selling fresh coconuts instead of dried ones.
Every year, in the rainy season, the production of coconuts increases so the price is a bit down compared to other times. In previous years, in this season, the lowest price of fresh coconut was 60,000 – 70,000 VND/dozen. However, in recent months, Mr. Dinh said that traders only buy fresh coconuts for 30,000-35,000 VND/a dozen. The price of 2 or 3 small-sized coconuts equals one common coconut.
About 2 km away, the 6,000 m2 coconut garden of Mr. Le Van Trong, 53 years old, has been harvested. Instead of being transported by traders, more than 2,000 coconuts have been gathered along the road for two weeks. Besides, about 500 coconuts harvested previously turned dark gray, some of them had green buds.
Six years ago, the owner of this garden planted the original “Malay” red coconut. After 3 years, the coconuts started to bear. This variety produces a lot of coconuts but is small in size. Therefore, trades often complained and offered less than 10,000-20,000 VND/ a dozen.
In recent months, traders only buy fresh red coconut at about 1,500 VND. The price was low without profits. Mr. Trong tried to wait for the price to go up but it was not positive. The coconuts in the garden passed the age for fresh selling, so he had to pick down and gather them along the road to sell dried coconuts.
More than 2,000 coconuts of Mr.Trong had to be picked down.
Mr. Bui Duong Thuat, Director of Mekong Fruit Import-Export Company (Chau Thanh, Ben Tre), said that the company still buys green and red coconuts with the proportion of green coconuts slightly higher. However, regardless of the varieties, he said that each coconut must qualify for the standard of 1.4 kg-1.8 kg. The standard coconuts will be bought by the company at a price of 70,000 VND/a dozen, twice as high as the market price.
Mr. Huynh Quang Duc, Deputy Director of Ben Tre Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that it is now the rainy season so a large output of coconuts is available for harvest so the price has decreased according to market rules.
For many years, the agricultural sector has recommended farmers grow the local green coconut variety to ensure standards. However, about 10% of coconut areas planted by farmers are different varieties that do not meet the standards, so the output is not ensured.
For example, Ms. Nguyen Thanh Thao (39 years old, Chau Binh, Giong Trom) has 7,000 m2 of “Malay red coconut” which has been available for harvest for two years. Six years ago, the price of dried coconut went down so her family cut down the old coconut trees and planted red coconut which had a high price at that time. They hoped to change their life. Recently, the small red coconuts were refused by traders. Then her family bought green coconut varieties to intercropping in the garden, planning to cut down the red coconut next year and returning to the traditional coconut.
Ben Tre has over 74,000 ha of coconut, accounting for 80% of the coconut area in the SouthWest region and 50% of the whole country. In addition to a small volume exported to the US, Ben Tre’s coconuts are mainly purchased by domestic traders. The largest market is China, which has come to the locality to survey growing areas and packaging facilities.
“Currently, we are just waiting for the signing of protocols to officially export coconuts to China. This market has a large consumption demand then the life of coconut growers will be better,” Mr. Duc said./.