Coconut shortage hits Ben Tre province hinh anh 1A Tuyet Phung Company coconut candy processing line in Ben Tre Province’s Mo Cay Nam District. (Source: VNA)
Ben Tre (VNA) - Businesses making coconut-based products in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre are facing a raw material shortage due to last year’s drought and saltwater intrusion from the sea into rivers.

Nguyen Bao Tri, deputy director of the Luong Quoi Coconut Processing Company, said: “The supply in the province is not enough to meet the demand of the market and processing companies. Companies have to import dried coconut from other places.”

Companies have to compete with each other to buy raw materials for their production, he added.

Due to the shortage, prices have surged to around 110,000 VND (nearly 5 USD) for a dozen coconuts, nearly double the rate at this time last year.

Some coconut groves have also been plagued by insects this year, local farmers said.

According to the province’s Department of Industry and Trade, Ben Tre has nearly 2,000 companies processing coconut-based products to supply both the domestic and export markets.

When operating at full capacity, they need around 1.1 billion dried coconuts a year.

The shortage is a big challenge now, the department said.

The Ben Tre People’s Committee’s vice chairman Nguyen Huu Lap told the Sai Gon Giai Phong (the Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper that most farmers grow coconuts on small pieces of land, and face all attendant problems.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Vo Thanh Hao said to resolve their problems and ensure steady production farmers need to change their production methods.

The main need at the moment is to work together by setting up co-operation models and co-operatives and apply modern technologies to improve quality and prevent insects, he said.

Co-operation between farmers, companies, managers and scientists is essential and needs to be strengthened, he said, adding that companies should actively connect with farmers and help them use technology to increase quality and yields.-VNA