A farmer harvests aloe vera in Ninh Thuan Province. (Photo: VNA)

Ninh Thuan (VNS/VNA) - Aloe vera farming has helped farmers in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan adapt to climate change and earn steady incomes since thanks to high demand for the plant to make food, cosmetics and herbal remedies.

With its hardy, drought-resistant nature, the plant is grown in the province’s sandy soil areas, mostly in Phan Rang – Thap Cham city.

Tran Van Luong, who has been growing the plant for seven years in Phan Rang – Thap Cham city’s Van Hai ward, said he has one hectare of aloe vera and harvests an average of 50 tonnes of leaves a month.  

He sells the leaves at an average of 1,000 VND a kilogramme and earns a monthly profit of 30 million VND (1,280 USD), he said.

This year farmers in the province said they have had a good harvest and prices.

Ninh Thuan, which has the least rainfall in the country, is one of the country’s largest aloe vera producers since its warm weather and sandy soil is suitable for the plant.

The investment required is around 10 million VND (430 USD) per hectare including seedlings, according to farmers.

Nguyen Thi Lanh, who has grown aloe vera on a 3,000sq.m area in Phan Rang – Thap Cham’s My Binh ward, said she now has a better income than when growing onion, garlic and red chilli previously.

“Aloe vera is easy to tend as it gets few diseases and needs no herbicides,” she said. She only needs to water the plants, weed and remove spoilt leaves. 

Demand for aloe vera is increasing for making beverages, cosmetics and herbal remedies.

Huynh Hai Tien, a trader in Phan Rang – Thap Cham city, said he buys around 20 tonnes of leaves a day to sell to processors in Ninh Thuan and HCM City. The prices are higher during the dry season, he said.

The province’s aloe vera is sold to buyers in many cities and provinces like HCM City, Da Lat and Long An and Dong Nai.

Phan Quang Thuu, deputy director of the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said aloe vera is one of the province’s key crops. It provides the main income for many farmers, helping them escape poverty and even become affluent, he said.

If they grow the plant using proper farming techniques, they can earn an annual profit of 300 – 600 million VND (12,860 -25,720 USD) per hectare, he said.

The province has 333ha under the crop, with an annual leave yield of 100,000 tonnes, according to the department.

The department is working with relevant agencies to improve farming techniques and research particular areas for expanding aloe vera farming.

The province has strengthened co-operation between companies and farmers through co-operatives and co-operative teams to develop chains for sustainable planting and consumption of the plant. 

It plans to expand the cultivation area of aloe vera to around 500ha by 2020, according to the department.-VNS/VNA