The northern province of Dien Bien, which has perfect conditions for growing macadamia trees, has invested in cultivating the lucrative crop in a bid to reduce poverty and eradicate hunger in the locality.

In 2009, Quang Van Tay in Bua 2 village, Ang To commune, Muong Ang district was the first farmer to plant macadamia trees as part of the province’s Danish-Vietnamese cooperation project, which provided him with financial and technical assistance.

The macadamia trees, combined with coffee plants, flourished on his land and brought a promising first harvest.

Following Tay’s success, the project invested 200 million VND (9,500 USD) to extend macadamia cultivation to more than 15ha in Muong Ang district during the 2011-2012 period.

Director of Macadamia Dien Bien JSC, Pham Duy Thanh, said the province planned to cultivate the crop on more than 4,000ha in Dien Bien, Tuan Giao and Muong Ang districts. So far, 3,400ha have been planted with macadamia trees.

According to experts, as many as 300 trees can grow on each hectare. The trees can bear nuts for 60 years, starting from the fifth year onwards, with output peaking at nearly 5 tonnes during the 9th year.

Currently, macadamia nuts sell for 250.000-300.000 VND per kilogramme (11.9–14.28 USD/kg), which is more profitable than coffee beans. Plus, it costs less to cultivate macadamia trees than coffee plans. Farmers can generate lucrative profits from selling the trees’ valuable nuts and sturdy wooden trunks.

Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Pham Duc Hien said that intercropping macadamia with coffee plants was a sustainable way to grow the crop, whilst increasing the efficiency of coffee crops and farmers’ incomes.

The macadamia nut is dubbed “the Queen of Nuts” for its extraordinary nutritional value.

Experts said compared to other common edible seeds, such as almonds and cashews, macadamias are high in fat and low in protein. Out of all the seeds and nuts, macadamias have the highest amounts of mono-unsaturated fats.

The plant, indigenous to Australia, was introduced to Vietnam in 2002 for trial cultivation. Local scientists took soil samples and found that the northwestern and Central Highland regions had the best growing conditions for the plant.

Most notably, on a per tree basis, Vietnam’s macadamia trees have produced the same, and higher, yields as Australia, the world’s number one macadamia cultivator.-VNA