Long An province in Vietnam which produces about 215, 000 tons of dragon fruit every 12 months, has focused to increase its exports of the fruit by using modern technology to develop 2, 000ha of new growing land in Chau Thanh district.
The plan, which the provincial agriculture section says will be completed by 2020, will grow the province’s dragon fruit-growing area from its current 9, 200ha. The new cultivation area will produce pesticide-free dragon fruits.
China is a big market for Vietnam’s dragon fruit
According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Expansion, 80 percent of dragon fruit from Long An province is provided for the Chinese market. Twelve to fifteen percent is consumed locally, and the rest is delivered to Japan, Thailand, the US and Europe (including Frozen Dragon Fruit)
The price of Vietnam’s dragon fruit in the Chinese market is considered unstable and decided by traders, so growers would like to sell to a broader variety of markets. Therefore, it is necessary to invest in several production methods that will enable the fruit to meet the standards established by importers like Asia, the US and the EU.
In order to expand the dragon fruit-export market, the province has made detailed plans to develop growing areas regarding to GlobalGAP and VietGAP standards.
Thanks to these strategic directions, Long An province great dragon fruits have been accepted by foreign markets such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan (China), all of which have tight standards for produce basic safety.
In order to put into practice the routine, the district developed two 5ha clean monster fruit-growing models at the two cooperatives of Long Hoi and Tam Vu last year. The models grow dragon fruit following VietGAP (Vietnam Good Agricultural Practices) standards, using organic and natural manures, bio-fertilizers, bio-products and pest traps.
This year, the district has implemented half a dozen pilot models with an overall total area of 145. 2 ha. In the pilot sites, personnel have guided farmers to work with organic and natural manures, bio-fertilizers, probiotics and advanced technology for grafting.
An additional pilot area extended range Tri commune applies a sophisticated irrigation system for dragon fruit trees on acreage of 5, 000 sq. meters.
Nguyen Van Phi, a farmer who was taking part in a pilot dragon fruit project in an An Luc Long commune, declared that using the VietGAP-standard model was costly but the consumption market was guaranteed.
Mr Phi said all the dragon fruits produced at An Luc Long commune’s pilot project were purchased by Hoang Phat Ltd. Co.
Mr Vo Van Van is head of Chau Thanh district’s Agriculture Office, he said the local agricultural sector has implemented VietGAP requirements on 700ha of dragon fruit cultivation area, with the participation of 1, 800 families.
“Although the setup of the project has coped with difficulties, including a lack of fertilizer storage, pesticides and the field-cleaning process, I believe the project is moving in the right course, ” he said.
Vo Van Hoang is director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Creation, He said that nowadays in this market, farmers must go on to clean agriculture and high technology, aiming at stabilizing result and increasing the value of many.
However, in line with the department, the expansion of the clean dragon fruit-growing model is difficult because it requires a huge amount of money from growers who wish to participate in the project.
For instance, the model at Long Three commune asked farmers to contribute 70 percent of the total investment, while the Central budget protected 30 percent.
The region also has no plan or budget to apply the VietGAP dragon fruit tasks.
According to Pham Van Canh, Vice Chairman of the Long An territorial People’s Committee, the region will direct the culture department and grass-roots regulators to guide farmers and enterprises to improve development capacity and pack dragon fruits according to export criteria.
Currently, Chau Thanh region is home to four companies, three enterprises, four cooperatives and 107 backyards involved in dragon fruit creation.
Additional buying the fruits and veggies for export have deals with export companies in Binh Thuan province and HCM City.