Export prices of sweet potatoes in the Mekong Delta provinces are currently rising, however, many farmers regret not growing enough sweet potatoes to sell.
With about 13,000 ha of sweet potatoes, Binh Tan district (Vinh Long) is considered the largest sweet potato area in the Mekong Delta for many years, especially Japanese purple sweet potato – mainly for exports to the Chinese market.
Mr. Le Van Dang (Tan Hung commune, Binh Tan district) said: Recently, the export prices of sweet potatoes suddenly increased to 1-1.2 million VND/60 kg for good sweet potatoes and from 700,000-800,000 VND/60 kg for normal ones. These prices are very attractive, ensuring that farmers can earn a profit of more than 10 million VND/man, but most households do not have enough sweet potatoes to sell.
The prices of sweet potatoes are increasing but farmers in Vinh Long do not have enough sweet potatoes to sell.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Linh (a farmer of Tan Thanh commune) said: “The reason why the price of sweet potatoes is now at a high level is in Vinh Long in particular and the Mekong Delta in general, there are not many areas available for harvesting. The supply is so small while demand is so high. ”
According to Mr. Son Van Luan – Director of Thanh Ngoc Sweet Potato Cooperative (Binh Tan district), in 2020 and 2021, when the pandemic was complicated and China strictly checked, the export of purple sweet potatoes from the Mekong Delta to this market was extremely difficult, the price of potatoes dropped dramatically. There were times such as in May 2021, the price of sweet potatoes was only about 40,000 VND/60 kg (more than 650 VND/kg) but no one bought them. In the recent 3 years, many households have suffered heavy losses, so the area of sweet potatoes for export has decreased significantly.
Specifically, in Binh Tan district, more than 50% of the sweet potato cultivation area has been switched by farmers to vegetables and fruit trees. In the summer-autumn season in 2022, Binh Tan district only has about 400 ha of sweet potatoes, down much compared to previous years.
“Currently, farmers have just planted more than 100 ha of sweet potatoes, of which the area for harvest is not much. Therefore, the number of households with sweet potatoes for sale at this time is very low. It is possible that after the Lunar New Year 2023, farmers will expand the area of sweet potato again” – Mr. Son Van Luan said.
The situation in Chau Thanh district (Dong Thap) is similar. The area of sweet potato in Hoa Tan, Tan Phu, and Phu Long communes… has been greatly cut. To ensure the stable export of sweet potatoes, the People’s Committee of Dong Thap province recommends farmers reorganize production associated with enterprises, improve product quality, and expand the area to meet safety standards.
Mr. Son Van Luan said: Although the export prices of sweet potatoes are high now, farmers do not dare to grow as much as before. Growing sweet potatoes for export requires relatively high capital (about 150 million VND/ha) while the output still depends on the Chinese market, making farmers cautious. The long-term solution is to restructure towards increasing the connection among enterprises, cooperatives, and farmers; in which, enterprises must invest capital, and equipment, and sign contracts to buy products for farmers.
“Recently, there have been 3-4 enterprises in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City… contacting the cooperative to buy sweet potato for exports with a floor price of 10,000 VND/kg, if the market price increases when the harvest season comes, they will the purchase price for farmers. This way is considered a sustainable direction, ensuring farmers invest in sweet potato cultivation. In addition, it is necessary to strengthen trade promotion to expand more export markets, ” Mr. Son Van Luan said./.