Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - The price of fruit in the Mekong Delta has risen recently as the impact of drought and salt water intrusion has caused fruit output to decline while demand has increased.

Nguyen Van Thuc, Vice Chairman of the Hoa Loc Mango Co-operative in Tien Giang province’s Cai Be district, said his co-operative was buying Hoa Loc mango at a price of 50,000 – 60,000 VND (2.2 – 2.7 USD) a kilo, about 10,000 VND higher than the same period last year.

He said they did not have enough mangoes to export to Japan.

Similarly, the price of citrus fruits such as oranges, mandarins and grapefruit has increased significantly because of high demand and lower output.

Pham Van Lanh in Lai Vung district in Dong Thap province said at the end of last month his orchard had two tonnes of off-season sweet mandarins and a trader offered to buy them at a price of 28,000 VND a kilo.

“The price was attractive, and I agreed to sell my sweet mandarins,” he said.

However, the price of sweet mandarins rose to 30,000 VND a kilo and then to 36,000 VND a kilo a few days later, he said.

Traders now buy sweet mandarins at 36,000-40,000 VND a kilo, according to farmers.

Dang Van Nam, Director of the Ke Thanh Nam Roi Grapefruit in Soc Trang province’s Ke Sach district, said it is the off season for citrus fruits, so the yield has not been large, while the current demand for domestic consumption and exports is high.

Many grapefruit exports to Asia and Europe have halted because of the supply shortage, according to fruit enterprises in the delta.

The price of citrus fruits is expected to remain high in the coming months, they said.

Ongoing saltwater intrusion from rivers has affected fruit orchards in the delta’s coastal areas, causing many fruit trees to have their flowers and young fruits falling.

Do Van Tai, director of the Tan Thanh Fruit Co-operative in Cau Ke district’s An Phu Tan commune in Tra Vinh province, said that as of early this month, about 80 percent of 1,300ha of fruit orchards in the commune have been affected by saline intrusion.

“Besides the loss of fruits, farmers worry that their fruit trees could die in the coming time,” he said.

Ongoing drought and salination have been threatening more than 6,000 ha of green peel and pink flesh grapefruit trees in Ben Tre.

Many farmers who grow green-peel and pink-flesh grapefruits have decided to pick young grapefruit and use leaves or other materials to cover the roots of grapefruit trees in order to save them from drought and salination.

In Ben Tre province’s Cho Lach district, one of the delta’s largest fruit cultivation areas, many fruit orchards cannot bear fruit because of salination.

Bui Thanh Liem, head of the Cho Lach district Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, said this was the first time the district’s fruit orchards had been severely affected by salination.

The bureau has set up three places to measure the salt content in water to help farmers who grow fruits and flowers, Liem said.

Every day, about 1,000 farmers take water samples to the sites to test the salt content, he said.

Officials at the three sites also offer advice on how to protect fruit orchards, including not using water with over 0.2 percent salt content to irrigate fruit trees, he said.

Tien Giang province authorities have also implemented several measures, including strictly monitoring the salt content of water and informing farmers to pump water into their ponds when there is fresh water, to protect the province’s more than 60,000 ha of fruits.

If fruit orchards are destroyed, it will take many years to recover them, according to Nguyen Thien Phap, head of the Tien Giang province Irrigation Sub-department.-VNA