Tien Giang to expand dragon fruit growing area hinh anh 1The high prices dragon fruit fetches have helped several farmers in the Plain of Reeds become rich in recent years. (Photo: VNA/VNS)

Tien Giang (VNS/VNA) – The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang is expanding its specialised growing zone for dragon fruit, a fruit that has helped several local farmers become rich.

According to Huynh Van Buon, head of the agricultural and rural development bureau of Tan Phuoc district, the district has been growing the fruit for only a few years, but has nearly 600ha under the fruit, mainly red-flesh dragon fruit.

Around 350ha of the latest crop have been harvested, yielding 7,000 tonnes, he said.

The communes with the largest areas planned now are Tan Lap I with 172ha, Thanh Tan (120ha), Thanh My (60ha), and Tan Hoa Dong (40ha).

Nguyen Van Ro, Chairman of the Thanh Tan People’s Committee, said the fruit has become his once sleepy commune’s key economic product thanks to its economic value and demand in foreign markets. Farmers growing the fruit can now rely on it for their main income, he added.

One such farmer is Phan Van Khanh, who owns a 1.5ha red-flesh dragon fruit orchard. It produces 30 tonnes of the fruit per hectare per season.

Thus, this year he has earned around 1 billion VND (44,000 USD) from selling 30 tonnes of the fruit at an average price of 30,000 VND per kilogramme. He has become rich thanks to the fruit.

Vo Van Dung of Thanh Hoa commune, Tan Phuoc district, also has a 1.5ha orchard. Last year, he harvested 40 tonnes and earned 1.2 billion VND as the fruit’s price soared to 46,000 VND per kilo. He said the fruit can help locals become rich.

Cat Tuong Company, an agricultural processing firm in Tan Phuoc, grows red-flesh dragon fruit to global good agricultural practices (GAP) standards on 100ha due to the high yields and export demand.

Buon said the soil of the Plain of Reeds region (which spans Long An, Tien Giang and Dong Thap provinces) is extremely suitable for growing dragon fruit.

He said to increase productivity and quality for export, the district would send technical staff to train farmers in the application of global GAP standards.

Besides, the district has helped farmers establish cooperatives and farmers groups to build a value chain for dragon fruit, he said.

The fruit has dominated Vietnamese fruit exports this year with shipments being worth 427 million USD in the first four months, a year-on-year increase of 9 percent and accounting for 32 per cent of all vegetable and fruit exports.

The value was nearly four times that of the next two below it – longan (121 million USD) and mango (104 million USD).-VNS/VNA