Mekong district produces high-quality sweet potatoes for export hinh anh 1Harvested sweet potatoes planted under VietGAP standards in Dong Thap province’s Chau Thanh district (Photo:
Dong Thap (VNS/VNA) - Dong Thap province’s Chau Thanh district has expanded the cultivation of high-quality sweet potatoes for export and will develop processed sweet-potato products that meet the standards of the country’s ‘one commune – one product’ (OCOP) programme.

The Mekong Delta district, which is the province’s largest sweet potato producer, has developed cultivation models under good agricultural practice (GAP) standards.

In June last year, the district’s Agriculture Service Centre launched a model to reduce production costs for 42 farmers in Tan Phu Commune. The farmers, who grew a total of 50ha of sweet potato, were instructed in proper techniques that help to reduce the use of input materials and increase yield and quality.

Phan Thanh Phương, one of the farmers in Tan Phu’s Tan Thuan Hamlet, said the production cost of seeds, fertiliser and labour was about 22 million VND (950 USD) per hectare a crop, down 10 – 20 percent compared to traditional farming methods.

He was provided part of the production cost to buy high quality seeds and organic fertiliser, and prepare soil for sweet potato cultivation. He was also instructed in VietGAP techniques.

Phan Phi Hoang, a farmer in the same hamlet, said in the last sweet potato crop, the centre provided financial support to reduce production costs.

“After participating in the model, I know how to use organic fertiliser and apply biosafety,” he said.

The centre’s training courses on advanced techniques have helped farmers change outdated habits and switch to VietGAP farming techniques.

Trained farmers apply biosafety when choosing quality seeds, preparing land for cultivation, and preventing and controlling pests.

Chau Thanh has more than 3,400ha of sweet potato, accounting for 98 percent of the province’s total sweet potato area, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Farmers in Chau Thanh plant various sweet potato varieties, with Japanese purple-flesh sweet potato variety accounting for more than 98 percent of the district’s total area.

The district has established two co-operatives, two co-operative groups and two farmer clubhouses for growing and trading sweet potatoes. Participating farmers exchange information about production and markets. They are also provided advanced farming techniques that help increase quality and yield.

These groups have helped their members secure outlets through contracts.

Sweet potatoes in the district are mostly sold fresh and exported to Cambodia and China.

The district plans to manufacture high-quality sweet potato products that will be identified as OCOP products.

Huynh Thanh Hiep, director of the Nam Huy Dong Thap Co. Ltd in the district’s Hoa Tan Commune, said his company and others are buying sweet potatoes in the district to manufacture dried sweet-potato products.

His company and others are producing high-quality sweet potato products to meet standards in the OCOP program. Besides dried sweet-potato products, sweet potatoes are also used to produce cakes, jam and other products.

Previously, the district’s sweet potatoes were planted to sell fresh to consumers.

Sweet potato is one of five key products in the district's agriculture restructuring plan.

Vo Dinh Trọng, head of the district Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the district would develop value chains for sweet potato cultivation.

The district would also tighten the management of producing and trading sweet potato seed and build a collective brand name for the district’s sweet potatoes, he said./.