Farmers tend to their chili field in Tan Nghia commune, Cao Lanh district  of Dong Thap province. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City VNA) - Farmers in the Mekong Delta are sowing various vegetables and fruits for harvest ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year) next February.

The demand for vegetables and fruits is high during Vietnam’s largest festival, which lasts from on February 2-10 this year.  

In Ca Mau province, farmers began planting bitter melon, spring onion, watermelon, and tomato and other vegetables early this month.

Farmers in Ly Van Lam commune, a watermelon growing area in Ca Mau city, are planting 21ha of the fruit under Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) standards.

Le Nhu, who has 2.5ha in Ly Van Lam, said: “Planting watermelon based on VietGAP standards has high economic efficiency as it saves fertiliser and pesticide costs.”

If the weather is favourable, farmers could earn 20 million VND (860 USD) per 1,000sq.m, he said.

They can harvest around three tonnes of the fruit two months after planting. The local People’s Committee has instructed the Ly Van Lam Agriculture Cooperative to ensure its members conform to watermelon growing schedules, the varieties they should grow and the size at which to harvest to meet market demand.

But recent rains in the commune have affected the growing schedule and created conditions for infestation by vegetable pests, giving farmers cause for worry about poor harvest.

Nguyen Thi Kieu Khuyen, deputy head of the Agriculture Extension Centre’s Agriculture Extension Division, said farmers should use various kinds of fertilisers in a balanced manner when growing watermelons rather than using too much nitrate fertilizers if they want to lessen disease outbreaks.

In Dong Thap province, many farmers are planting clean vegetables, including in net houses, to supply for Tet.

Nguyen Van Tao in Long Thuan commune in Hong Ngu district has for the first time begun to grow Chinese mustard greens in a net house.  The price of Chinese mustard greens is usually high before Tet as people buy them to make pickled vegetables for eating during the festival, he said.

He has planted 1,500sq.m of the greens, and hopes to earn 15 million VND (640 USD) per 1,000sq.m and supply clean vegetables to the market, he said.

Long Thuan commune, one of Dong Thap’s major vegetable growing areas, has 282ha under various vegetables, including 160ha of clean vegetables, according to its People’s Committee.

The commune supplies around 10 tonnes of various types of vegetables daily, but this is expected to triple just before Tet.

Nguyen Huu Hanh, chairman of the commune People’s Committee, said the area under clean vegetables has increased since the previous Tet.

The commune has instructed farmers to grow vegetables that are in high demand during Tet such as Chinese mustard greens, cauliflower and edible chrysanthemum.

In Long An province, famers in major vegetable growing areas like Can Duoc and Can Giuoc districts are planting more spring onion, peppermint, water spinach and other vegetables.

Nguyen Van Nam, member of the Phuoc Hiep Clean Vegetable Cooperative in Can Giuoc’s Phuoc Hau commune, said: “Farmers focus on growing vegetables to supply during Tet since they fetch high prices during the festival besides contracting few diseases and result in higher yields at this time of the year.”

From his 2,000sq.m field, he has been earning more than 30 million VND (1,290 USD) by growing vegetables for Tet.

Can Duoc authorities have encouraged farmers and agricultural co-operatives to apply VietGAP standards in growing vegetables, according to the district’s Agriculture and Rural Development Division.-VNA