Many farmers in Binh Thuan province have destroyed their dragon fruit orchards since they continually suffer heavy losses due to the unstable purchase price.
Last weekend, Mr. Nguyen The Anh, a farmer in Ham Thanh commune (Ham Thuan Nam district), rented a vehicle with two workers to cut down more than 3,000 dragon fruit plants. Dragon fruit plants on poles in orchards are so green, but the owner has to destroy them since he cannot afford to invest further.
Workers cut down dragon fruit plants in the orchard of Mr. Nguyen The Anh, Ham Thanh commune (Ham Thuan Nam district).
Mr. The Anh said, his family has tried to maintain their dragon fruit orchard in the last three seasons but the price drops sharply, one kilogram can only be sold at a few thousand VND. The revenue from selling dragon fruit is not enough to pay for electricity, fertilizers, and labor cost. Each season they lose tens of millions of dong.
“Based on the current situation, we continue to make losses, so I decided to cut down dragon fruit plants to grow jackfruit and mangosteen. There is no other choice”, said Mr. The Anh.
Mr. Tran Phi Dzung, the owner of the vehicle cutting down dragon fruit at Mr. Kha’s orchard, said not only Mr. Kha but many farmers in the area also destroy dragon fruit due to unstable prices. “In about last 20 days, a lot of farmers in the area of Ham Thanh – Ham Can rent my vehicle to cut down dragon fruit plants,” Mr. Dzung said.
According to Mr. Dzung, in Ham Thanh commune, there are ten vehicles specialized in removing dragon fruit poles, his family owns two. On average, one vehicle can remove 250 poles per day. The renting price is 20,000 VND per pole. If cleaning cost is included, the price will be 30,000 VND.
“The expense for investing in dragon fruit is high, now farmers have to pay more if they want to destroy them,” Mr. Dzung said. He also shared that many farmers here want to destroy dragon fruit plants but do not have enough money to rent vehicles, so they let them wither.
Mr. Pham Kim Lam, a farmer in Thuan Minh commune (Ham Thuan Bac district), removes more than 1,500 dragon fruit poles in his orchard on March 18
Last week, Mr. Pham Kim Lam, 61 years old, in Thuan Minh commune (Ham Thuan Bac district) with his son, destroyed more than 1,500 poles of mature dragon fruit in a more than 1.5-hectare orchard next to the Quao River irrigation channel.
Ten years ago, when dragon fruit was valuable, Mr. Lam spent all of his money on growing this dragon fruit orchard. Thanks to available water sources all year round, his garden is green and bears many fruits.
In the first few years, dragon fruit price was high, the income from dragon fruit became the main source for his family. But last year, the dragon fruit price dropped continually making heavy losses, he decided to stop. He only pumps water to keep the humidity and uses fewer fertilizers to maintain the orchard with the hope that the price will increase again and he will continue to invest in farming.
But since the beginning of this year, the price of dragon fruit has plunged because China stopped receiving goods at the border of Vietnam – China. Many ripe dragon fruit orchards in the region are not bought or bought cheaply at 1,000-2,000 VND per kilo.
Facing that the situation was too gloomy, Mr. Lam decided to destroy all dragon fruit plants in his orchard. He rented a vehicle to remove poles, and clean the garden. In the next rainy season, he is going to plant corn or bean.
Mr. Lam said, one hectare of dragon fruit costs several tens of millions of dong each season for investment (electricity, fertilizers, pesticides, growth stimulants) and care costs. However, with the price of only 1,000-2,000 VND, even no one buys, the more the farmers make, the more debt they owe.
“We would rather stop working now. The more we borrow from the bank for investment, the more we get in trouble,” Mr. Lam said. He also added that currently, only families who have money to spare can keep their orchards and continue to grow dragon fruit.
A ripe dragon fruit orchard in Ham Thuan Nam district is not bought. Photo: Viet Quoc
By the end of 2021, Binh Thuan province has more than 33,700 hectares of dragon fruit with an output of 700,000 tons/year. Although dragon fruit has been exported to many countries, it still depends mainly on the Chinese market through the border gates.
The price of the dragon fruit has continually dropped over the past time, causing many farmers to lose. As a result, they have to stop growing dragon fruit or switch to other plants. Currently, the agriculture sector of Binh Thuan has not had complete statistics on this situation.
Particularly in Ham Thuan Bac district, the statistics in 2021 show that 1,400 hectares of dragon fruit were destroyed. “Of which, more than 726 hectares were cut down, not produced and nearly 674 hectares were switched to other plants,” said Mr. Le Minh Luan, Head of Agriculture and Rural Development Department of Ham Thuan Bac district.