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Farmers enjoy bumper salt production, high prices in Mekong Delta

Farmers in the Mekong Delta are harvesting the 2019-20 salt crop, with the prolonged hot weather providing a bumper harvest, and prices ruling high.

In Soc Trang province’s Vinh Chau town, farmers are producing salt on a total area of 120ha, mostly in Lai Hoa and Vinh Tan communes and Vinh Phuoc ward, according to the town’s Economic Bureau.

Farmers harvest salt in Soc Trang province’s Vinh Chau town. Photo: VNA

Son Thanh Kha, who has a 3ha salt field in Lai Hoa commune, said he has completed his first harvest with an output of 50 tonnes.

He expects to complete the second in the next 10 days.

“If the weather is favourable like at the beginning of the season, farmers will have more bumper harvests.”

Farmers can produce salt throughout the season depending on weather conditions and production methods, depending on whether they use traditional methods or using plastic sheets to cover fields to produce clean salt.

It takes about 10 -15 consecutive sunny days for a salt harvest using the traditional method, while it takes 10-12 days using plastic sheets.

Ben Tre province has 1,150 households who produce salt on a total area of more than 1,200ha, mostly in Ba Tri and Binh Dai districts, according to its Rural Development Sub-department.

In Ben Tre, traders now buy salt at a price of 40,000-50,000 VND (1.7-2.2 USD) per 45 kilogrammes, which is profitable, according to farmers.

Farmers in Ben Tre started production one month earlier than last year after the rainy season ended early.

Vo Tien Si, head of the Ben Tre Rural Development Sub-department, said farmers have harvested nearly 10,000 tonnes of salt so far.

In the delta, salt is made mostly in the coastal provinces of Bac Lieu, Ben Tre, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.

In Bac Lieu, the largest producer, farmers make salt on a total of 1,670ha, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Nguyen Quoc Vinh, who has been making salt for nearly 20 years in Bac Lieu’s Dong Hai district, said production using plastic sheets has yielded around 70 tonnes per 1,000sq.m this season and an income of 5 million VND (220 USD).

This is the second straight year of bumper harvests and high prices, he said.

“To save time, we harvest even at night to sell to traders.”

Trinh Hoai Thanh, deputy director of the Bac Lieu Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said yields are 30 percent higher when using plastic sheets.

The method also requires less tending, produces whiter salt and fetches higher profits, he said.

However, the cost is higher, and farmers need support policies to expand the area on which the method is used, he added.

Bac Lieu salt is exported to Cambodia, the Republic of Korea and Japan./