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Long An expands organic dragon fruit cultivation

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An is mapping out plans to expand cultivation of organic dragon fruit, primarily in Chau Thanh district, said Nguyen Chi Thien, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

He said the authorities in the district, the department and companies had piloted an organic dragon fruit model in Thanh Phu Long, Phu Ngai Tri and Duong Xuan Hoi communes that turned out to be highly efficient.

Nguyen Ngoc Tai, who cultivates 520 organic dragon fruit plants in Duong Xuan Hoi commune, said the model does not use chemicals and pesticides, and produces a high yield.

Sale of organic dragon fruit is guaranteed for prices 10 percent higher than the market price, he said.

Chau Thanh, which has the largest dragon fruit growing area in Long An, has more than 9,000ha of dragon fruit.

Nguyen Quoc Trịnh, Chairman of the Long An Dragon Fruit Association, said that localities should encourage farmers to expand the pilot models, which will help increase both yield and quality, and open up possibilities for exporting to demanding markets.

Long An, the country’s second-largest dragon fruit producer, after only the south-central province of Binh Thuan, has nearly 12,000ha of dragon fruit, including nearly 2,100ha planted with efficient irrigation facilities and other advanced techniques.

Efficient irrigation helps farmers save 50 - 80 percent on irrigation water compared to manual irrigation and 10 – 40 percent on fertiliser, reducing production costs by 2 – 4 million VND (86 – 172 USD) per hectare a month, according to the department.

Among other cooperatives that have received assistance, the Thanh Phu Long Agriculture Cooperative in Chau Thanh’s Thanh Phu Long commune last year received instruction in growing techniques under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) from the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance. The alliance also helped them build a brand name for their dragon fruit and informed them of the importance of origin traceability.

After this, the cooperative signed contracts to supply dragon fruit to various supermarkets in HCM City.

Dragon fruit is one of Vietnam’s nine key crops that have competitive advantages in the world market. However, most dragon fruit farmers in the country have unstable incomes because they have not have secured outlets.

Dragon fruit is cultivated in 30 cities and provinces nationwide, with Binh Thuan, Long An and Tien Giang provinces, accounting for 93 percent of the country’s total dragon fruit growing areas.

Binh Thuan has 29,000ha of dragon fruit and Tien Giang has 8,000ha./.