The price of dragonfruit in the central province of Binh Thuan, the country's largest dragon fruit cultivation area, has fallen significantly over the past 10 days as disease has hit some crops. The fruit is also competing with other kinds of fruit that are now in their peak harvest season.

Traders are buying dragonfruit for 2,000-4,000 VND (0.09 - 0.19 USD) a kilo, Pham Huu Thu, head of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Plant Cultivation Division, said.
At this price, farmers are taking a loss of about 2,000 VND a kilo, he said.

Farmer Pham Ngoc Son, who has recently harvested 100 kilos of dragon fruit with poor quality in Phan Thiet City's Tien Loi Commune, said rainfall over the past week had had caused fungi on the plants, resulting in a decline in quality.

In Ham Thuan Nam District's Ham My Commune, traders buy low-quality dragonfruit at a price of 1,500-2,500 VND a kilo.

Tran Minh Tien, head of the province's Sub-department of Plant Protection, said in Ham Thuan Nam , Ham Thuan Bac and Bac Binh districts, many areas of dragonfruit have been infected with anthracnose and white-spot diseases.

These fungal diseases normally occur in the rainy season and farmers were instructed to use medicines to spray on infected plants, he said.

"But this year there were too many rains, so the spraying was not effective, causing disease outbreaks," he said.

Of 4,000ha of disease-infected dragonfruit in the province, 70 percent of them had anthracnose disease and the rest white-spot disease, he said.

Many dragonfruit orchard owners said these diseases usually occur in orchards that do not follow global or Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) standards.

Binh Thuan had more than 7,000ha of dragonfruit planted under these standards last year.

The province has about 21,000ha of dragon fruit, which is 71 percent of the total cultivation area in the country. Binh Thuan has an annual output of more than 400,000 tonnes.-VNA