14/10/2020 14:28 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Sweet flavor of Chi Lang custard apples

The whole area of rocky Chi Lang mountain is covered with the green color of custard apple trees. Grown on more than 15 thousand ha, the custard apple trees are the strength for Lang Son to form the largest custard apple production area in the province.
From Hanoi, driving on National Highway 1A, to Chi Lang Bridge in Dong Mo town (Chi Lang district), we saw a busy harvest scene. Hoang Van Phu, a Tay man in Chi Lang town, was unloading each basket of custard apples from a high mountain pulley and chose the ripest and delicious fruit for his guests. In the late summer sunshine, the sweet flavor of his custard apples helped us forget our fatigue after a long journey.

Hoang Van Phu was very proud to talk about the custard apple pulley system in his hometown. The whole area of Chi Lang mountain has thousands of pulleys to transport the custard apples. Normally, the custard apples on the mountain are collected by local people and then packed in a basket and inserted into the pulley and moved to the foot of the mountain. Observing the pulley in Phu's house, we can see that it is a creative invention of the farmers here. 


Grown on more than 15 thousand ha, the custard apple trees are the strength for Lang Son to form the largest custard apple production area in the province. Photo: Ngoc Thanh


The main harvest season of custard apples in Chi Lang is from August to September. Photo: Tat Son 


The people in Chi Lang often harvest the custard apples in the mountains in the early morning
so they can transport them to the market during the day. Photo: Ngoc Thanh



The custard apples on the mountain are collected by local people and then packed in a basket and inserted into the pulley and moved to the foot of the mountain. Photo: Ngoc Thanh


 It takes only 2 minutes to carry custard apples to the foot of the mountain using the pulley system. Photo: Thong Thien 


Custard apples are carried by the pulley. Photo: Ngoc Thanh


A busy harvest scene on National Highway 1A. Photo: Tat Son


Carrying the custard apples to the Dong Banh market. Photo: Ngoc Thanh


The whole area of rocky Chi Lang mountain is covered with the green color of custard apple trees. Photo: Bao Uyen


Buying custard apples at National Highway 1A. Photo: Tat Son

Next to the pulley of Phu’s family is the pulley of Nguyen Thi Thom's family.  Thom's family has planted 2.7 ha of custard apple trees on the mountain and bought custard apples from farmers and then sold it to traders. Thom said, “This year there is less rainfall, so we have a good harvest. The custard apples have more fragrance and a sweeter taste than previous seasons. At the beginning of the season, I bought custard apples at a price from 40,000-60,000 dong per kg for large and beautiful fruit. During this harvest, the price is about 20,000-30,000 dong per kg. We could not meet all the orders.”

Along National Highway 1A to Dong Banh, we saw the largest apple market in the north. Groups of people from the communes of Bac Thuy, Bang Huu, Bang Mac, Gia Loc, Hoa Binh, Huu Kien, Lam Son and Quan Son flock to Dong Banh market to sell custardapples to the traders. Nguyen Thi Lua, a dealer in Dong Banh, said that every day about 50 tons of apples are successfully traded in this market.

According to Vi Nong Truong, Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Chi Lang district, Chi Lang district and Lang Son province have regularly coordinated to organize fairs to promote Chi Lang custard apples to consumers across the northern provinces.



Trading activities take place in the early morning at Dong Banh market,
which is considered the biggest market of custard apples in the north. Photo: Bao Uyen



Traders look to buy freshly harvested baskets of custard apples at Dong Banh market. Photo: Tat Son 


There are about 50 tons of custard apples at Dong Banh market each day,
which are then bought by traders for consumption throughout the north of Vietnam. Photo: Bao Uyen



Dong Banh custard apple market is crowded with sellers and buyers. Photo: Tat Son


 The price is about 20,000-30,000 dong per kg. Photo: Thong Thien


Chi Lang custard apples are sweet and delicious. 

Custard apple trees have been planted in Chi Lang since the 1960s by the people from Bac Giang who came to develop a new economic zone. Chi Lang custard apples have a thin skin, few seeds, a thick flesh, strong sweetness, unique aroma and are of a better quality than those grown in other localities.

Chi Lang has the largest apple cultivation area in the country with over 1,550 ha, an output of 15,500 tons/year and a total value of over 460 billion
dong
Concerned about how to promote Chi Lang custard apples to domestic and foreign customers, Hoang Van Chuc, a farmer in Dong Mo town, said, “The ripening time of the custard apples is very short, just a week. If the authorities begin research on a method that can preserve the custard apple for a longer period, or process it into juice, it will increase the value of the fruit. Chi Lang farmers also hope that the sweet and fragrant flavor of our hometown custard apples can be transported by plane to reach European and American customers like the lychee fruit in Bac Giang”.

The apples have helped generate income for more than 300 households , mainly the Tay and Nung ethnic groups in the district. The problem of making sure that the Chi Lang custard apple brand reaches the international market will be researched by the locality in the near future./.



 
Story: Phong Thu - Photos: Bao Uyen, Thong Thien, Tat Son & Ngoc Thanh