Mango exporters in the Mekong Delta face a serious supply shortage after the latest crop was hit by diseases, which has affected the quality of the fruit.

Huynh Van Ba, Deputy Director of the My Xuong Mango Co-operative in Dong Thap province, said the co-operative has got orders from mango exporters for more than 100 tonnes a month for shipping to the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, but can supply less than 10 tonnes because of a shortage of fruits meeting export quality.

Japan too wants to import a large quantity of mangoes but requires them to look flawless with a smooth skin and without any scratches, he said.

Diseases have caused more than 80-90 percent of harvested mangoes to fall below export quality, he said.

Mango farmers in Dong Thap, one of the delta's leading mango-growing provinces, use various methods to improve the quality of the fruit, including Vietnamese and global Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) standards.

The province's Cao Lanh district has more than 3,600ha under mango and 90ha of them meet VietGap or global GAP standards.

Vo Huu Hien, a member of the My Xuong co-operative, said with the application of VietGap standards, his 1.5ha yield more fruit and require less pesticides. The mangoes also fetch higher prices, he said.

Many farmers use small bags to cover the fruits while on the trees to improve quality.

Nguyen Dinh Tai, a member of the mango co-operative team in Cao Lanh's Tan Thuan Dong commune, said he has been using the bags for the last two years and got good harvests.

"My family earns a profit of 60-70 million VND (2,800-3,300 USD) a year from 3,500sq.m of mango orchards."

Traders pay 20,000 VND a kilogramme for fruits covered by bags, 5,000-6,000 VND higher than for normal mangoes, he said.

Farmers said the bags ensure beautiful looks and better quality than normal mangoes and protect the fruits for diseases.

Nguyen Hoai An, Secretary of the Tan Thuan Dong Party Committee, said the technique of using bags began in 2012 and took off this year thanks to the province's agriculture extension programmes.

Of Tan Thuan Dong's 536ha of mango, the technique is practised on more than 100ha, he said.

Nguyen Thanh Tai, Deputy Director of the Dong Thap Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said one of the main tasks under agriculture extension programmes is to persuade farmers to use bags.

The department would petition the People's Committee to draw up support policies for farmers growing mangoes in the off-season from May to August, he said.

Dong Thap has nearly 10,000ha under mango, mostly of the Cat Chu variety. Some 95 percent of the output is sold domestically and the rest is mostly exported to China.

The delta has about 41,000ha of mango, with Cat Chu and Cat Hoa Loc accounting for nearly 40 percent, and produces 420,000 tonnes, according to the Can Tho University's Mekong Delta Research and Development Institute.

Tien Giang is another of the major mango-growing provinces.-VNA