A farmer harvests dragon fruits in Tien Giang Province’s Cho Gao District. (Source: VNA)

Tien Giang (VNS/VNA) - Farmers in Tien Giang province, the country’s largest fruit producer, have planted 1,000ha of new fruit plants so far this year, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Mekong Delta province has harvested a total of more than 1.3 million tonnes of fruits in the first nine months of the year, meeting 85 percent of the province’s target for this year.

In recent years, the province has encouraged farmers to turn rice or other crop farming areas affected by drought and saltwater intrusion to grow specialty fruits.

The province has established concentrated areas for growing specialty fruits with high commercial value, according to Cao Van Hoa, Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

They include 15,000ha of pineapple in Tan Phuoc district, 9,000ha of durian in flood-prone districts upstream the Tien River, and 5,000ha of dragon fruit in eastern districts.

In the concentrated fruit growing areas, farmers have used quality fruit seedlings and advanced farming techniques to grow fruits.

Farmers have also applied techniques to produce off-season fruits to sell at higher prices. 

The rainy season is a suitable time for farmers to turn ineffective crop growing areas into new fruit orchards.

Therefore, the demand of fruit seedlings is increasing, resulting in a high price for fruit seedlings, said the department.

Vo Van Chuot, who has turned his 0.8ha rice field into a dragon fruit orchard in Cho Gao district’s Phu Kiet commune, said under the encouragement of local agricultural officials, he has switched to grow dragon fruits.

His orchard has an average yield of 16-20 tonnes a year, and he earned an annual profit of about 200 million VND (8,500 USD).

Tien Giang is having nearly 76,000ha of fruits, up 1.1 percent against the same period last year and accounting for nearly 40 percent of the province’s total farming areas.

Local farmers are planting more than 610ha of fruits under Vietnamese or global Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP or Global GAP) standards. Most of them are milk apple, mango, dragon fruit, durians, pineapple and sour sop.

The province has encouraged farmers to set up cooperatives for growing large quantity of fruits under VietGAP or Global GAP standards to meet export demand.  

The province exports about 20 percent of its fruits to many countries. Its milk apples are exported to the US.

It exported 30 million USD worth of fruits in the first half of the year, up 45 percent against the same period last year, according to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.-VNS/VNA