Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces should make zoning plans for pineapple cultivation and ensure there is a stable market for the fruit, delegates told a forum held in Hau Giang province recently.

Dr. Mai Thanh Phung, chief of the National Agriculture Extension Centre's Ho Chi Minh City office, said pineapple is among the world's most important fruits and has an output of 20 million tonnes a year, half of this grown in Asia.
"Though Vietnam is among the top 10 pineapple producing countries, it does not figure in the list of pineapple exporting countries," he said.

He attributed this to the lack of post-harvest and processing technologies in the country and inconsistent quality.

The country has around 40,000ha under pineapple, which yield more than 500,000 tonnes a year, with the south accounting for 90 percent of the area, he said.
Many farmers in Vi Thanh city and Long My district of Hau Giang, and Tan Phuoc district of Tien Giang province have benefited from growing the fruit.

Nguyen Van Dam of the Tan Phuoc agriculture extension office said pineapple is grown on 14,800 ha in the province, mostly in his district.

With an average yield of 20 tonnes per hectare, farmers earn a profit of 25 million VND per hectare a year, he said.

"The province plans to expand the area under pineapple to 16,000 ha and increase application of VietGap standards in growing the fruit," he said.

But delegates agreed that the lack of stable markets for the fruit, volatile prices, diseases, and poor post-harvest and processing technologies threaten sustainable development.

Nguyen Trinh Nhat Hang of the Southern Fruit Research Institute said local authorities should cooperate with related agencies to provide pineapple farmers with market information and advanced farming techniques, and create a sustainable consumption strategy for the fruit.

Provinces should make zoning plans for VietGap pineapple cultivation areas and adopt policies to encourage farmers to apply VietGap standards, which will improve the fruit quality and enable the country to meet large export orders, she said.

Phung urged agricultural extension centres to organise training courses to raise awareness among farmers about GAP and instruct them in GAP production techniques.

"Scientists should strengthen research to create new high quality seedlings and improve cultivation practices," he said.

He called for establishing closer links between enterprises and farmers, with the former ensuring outlets for the fruit.

Vo Mai, deputy chairwoman of the Vietnam Gardening Association, urged businesses to focus on developing brands for Vietnamese pineapple.

Farmers called on the Government to give them preferential loans and build more pineapple processing factories to enable exports so that they could feel more secure.-VNA