China’s licensing of durian to be officially exported to the country has opened great opportunities for this fruit to become a billion-dollar export item. However, farmers in some localities have rushed to cut down coffee and pepper trees to switch to growing durian, causing the risk of instability in supply and demand, and crop structure.
The high prices of durian have led many local farmers to rush to grow this tree. (Photo: Internet)
RUSH TO GROW DURIAN
Mr. Bui Van Hanh, Dak Ha commune (Dak Glong, Dak Nong) said that his family has an area of coffee intercropped with pepper. In the past few years, pepper’s productivity is poor, sick, and dying, not to mention the deep fall in price, so his family has just invested billions of VND in growing more than 300 durian Ri6 trees to replace coffee and pepper.
According to Mr. Hanh, compared to coffee and pepper, durian is more difficult to care for, however, the income from this tree is many times higher. Many farmers in the commune also get rich thanks to durian, so his family has decided to invest in this tree. “We know it’s hard to change crops. However, we do not change the crop following the time, we have nothing to harvest. The Central Highlands is having potential with durian, maybe in the future, we can create a durian specialty area, ” Mr. Hanh said.
Mr. Bui Tin, Chairman and Director of Krong Pak Organic Agriculture Cooperative (Dak Lak), said that with 01 ha of coffee and pepper, each year, after deducting expenses, the income of the farmer is only about 100 million VND, but with the same area, if growing durian, farmers can gain 500-700 million VND/ha. Therefore, in the coming time, the cooperative will cut down old and low-yield coffee trees to focus on durian.
Durian cultivation trend in the provinces of the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta is popular in recent times. Even, many people have destroyed the coffee garden, pepper, etc which have been planted for a decade to switch to durian, making this tree area increase strongly.
According to the General Statistics Office, since 2010, the durian area in the country has increased more than 05 times. Specifically, in 2010, there were only 17,600 hectares, but by 2022 this figure has risen to 90,000 hectares with an annual production of about 1.3 million tonnes. In particular, only in the last 02 years, has the durian area increased by more than 20,000 hectares.
Mr. Dang Phuc Nguyen, General Secretary of the Vietnam Vegetable Association, said that with the selling price maintained at 80,000-90,000 VND/kg and even when the price of other agricultural products fell, durian still reached high prices, this crop is very attractive to people.
Especially, after Vietnamese durian is licensed for export to China, durian prices are higher, leading to people tend to chop coffee, pepper, and cashew nut trees to switch to the “King of fruits”. However, according to Mr. Nguyen, one thing to note is that China currently only accepts durian grown in specialized areas, which are granted a growing area code by this country. While the area of durian intercropped with coffee and other trees in the Central Highlands region as reported by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is not small, reaching about 28,500 ha, mainly in Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Lam Dong, and Kon Tum.
Notably, currently, durian granted with a new growing area code accounts for only about 7% of the country’s durian area. So, if the area increases quickly in a short time, there is a risk of fraud in the growing area code, affecting the whole industry.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM PEPPER
Mr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong, Director of the Department of Crop Production (MARD) said that, recently, the MARD set up a survey delegation to check and evaluate the situation of fruit growing areas in the Central Highlands, Southeast Asia, and the Mekong Delta. The Ministry also found that there is a situation where people are switching from some other crops to durian due to the profit from the very attractive “King of fruit”.
“This can bring better income to households shortly, but in the long term, it is very easy to cause instability when the durian area increases too much,” Mr. Cuong said, at the same time, referencing the lesson from the pepper.
In 2017, when the pepper price reached 200,000 VND/kg, people rushed to grow pepper, which led to only in a short time, the pepper area increased 03 times. At that time, pepper prices fell to 15,000-20,000 VND/kg, causing households to invest in “black gold” trees to suffer severe loss.
“We advise people not to be impatient to switch to durian but to combine the intercrop of coffee and durian because the practice has proved the economic efficiency of the intercropping model is very good and sustainable. In particular, the localities need to get involved, widely communicate to the people, avoid the rush to grow durian”, Mr. Cuong said. The MARD has identified the risk and soon Minister Le Minh Hoan will have instructions on this issue.
Mr. Hoang Trung, Director of the Department of Plant Protection (MARD), said that Vietnam has signed a Protocol with China on the official export of durian, including requirements on specialized cultivation areas so we need to comply. For the intercropped durian area, which does not meet the requirements from China, the plant protection sub-departments have been instructed not to select these areas, because China checks very strictly, just via online check can fail.
“We have about 90,000 ha of durian but not all of it is exported to China. Durian in intercropping gardens can be consumed domestically and exported to other markets. To avoid the situation as previous crops, the MARD warned the localities not to increase durian area in the coming time ” Mr. Hoang Trung said./.