10:14 | 30/01/2017 Local Economy
(VEN) - Driving through Luc Ngan District in Bac Giang Province, one can admire limitless expanses of orange, lychee and grapefruit fields along the hillsides. The area is famous for such fruit varieties as Luc Ngan high-quality lychee, Vinh and Canh oranges, and Dien grapefruit.
|Bac Giang Department of Industry and Trade Director Tran Quang Tan (left)|
Major fruit cultivation centers in the district, including Hong Giang, Thanh Hai and Tan Quang communes, are crammed with trucks from other provinces coming to transport just harvested fruits to markets nationwide. We saw the happy faces of district farmers, hopeful that their bumper crops would also yield good sales and revenues.
The first stop on our itinerary was the orange orchard of the Bui Dinh Hau household in Tan Moc Commune. Hau told us that on a total area of almost four hectares, he mainly planted Vinh and Canh oranges, and was intercropping the Green Skin grapefruit and V2 orange on a trial basis.
Over the past five years, Hau’s orange orchard yielded 50-60 tonnes of fruit per crop and revenue of VND1.2-1.5 billion per year. In 2016, the orchard is expected to provide 70 tonnes of fruit. Traders from Hanoi have already ordered all of his Vinh oranges at a price of VND30,000 per kilogram.
According to Luc Ngan leaders, district farmers used to depend on lychee cultivation, but their bumper crops only resulted in a price drop and their hopes of making money were dashed. Since 2012, district authorities have been encouraging farmers in the region to grow or expand the cultivation of other special fruits, including Canh and Vinh oranges and Dien grapefruit, to improve income.
The hard labor has borne fruit: Citruses have now become efficient, lucrative crops in Luc Ngan. With more than 26,000ha of orchard, Luc Ngan is currently home to the biggest central orchards in northern Vietnam. Grown in Luc Ngan, many fruit varieties provide higher quality than in the regions of their origin.
We saw the results of this change in direction on the faces of each district official and farmer we met. Luc Ngan District People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Thanh Binh told us that almost 4,000ha of citruses are expected to yield VND700-800 billion in 2016, and fruit crops in the district, in general, have brought in revenue of more than VND3 trillion each year. Fruit cultivation has created new momentum for the district’s socioeconomic development while contributing to promoting commodity-oriented agriculture and new rural area construction in Luc Ngan.
Luc Ngan fruits have not only reached various domestic markets but have also been welcomed in such hard-to-please foreign markets as the US, the EU, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and Japan.
Fruit crops are grown on an alternating basis for 10 months of the year. Many farmer households earn more than VND1 billion per year from fruit cultivation. There are several thousand household-scale fruit plantations earning more than VND100 million each, annually, in Luc Ngan. Endowed with good climatic conditions ideal for fruit crop cultivation, Luc Ngan has become a famous fruit production center in northern Vietnam. District farmers have proven enterprising in exploiting local advantages, as well as the strengths of their families, to make money in a legitimate manner, according to heads of the Luc Ngan District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Both district officials and farmers told us that they aspire for Luc Ngan to become the biggest fruit production center in northern Vietnam. Bac Giang Department of Industry and Trade Director Tran Quang Tan suggested several ideas to help this dream come true. One such idea is to hold farm produce supply-demand connection conferences in coordination with provinces sharing a border crossing with other countries and territories, and big cities like Lao Cai, Lang Son, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City.
The department also recommended that the provincial People’s Committee form key farm produce production and supply chains, introducing and promoting fruit through the media, especially products made according to the Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) and the Global Good Agricultural Practices (GlobalGap). The department also provided advisory assistance for the successful first Luc Ngan-Bac Giang High Quality Lychee Week in Hanoi and the first fruit festival in the district. The events helped Bac Giang, in general, and Luc Ngan, in particular, find and expand markets and develop outlets in wholesale markets and other trade centers.
However, Luc Ngan fruits are facing many challenges: markets are unstable; district farmers haven’t had appropriate post-harvest conservation technology so most of their agricultural products are sold and exported in raw form, resulting in a low value added. Luc Ngan will now focus on developing fruit trees of high economic value on large-scale models in accordance with VietGAP and GlobalGAP. The district is also looking forward to establishment of new cooperatives and production groups to develop competitive, sustainable and efficient commodity-oriented production, as well as key product chains including lychee, orange and grapefruit chains, among others.
The Luc Ngan District People’s Committee intends to establish one fruit production cooperative in each commune. About
70-80 percent of district fruit farmer households are expected to join the cooperatives. The cooperatives will supply materials,
including fertilizers, and contribute to reducing production costs, increasing cooperative members’ income and improving the
autonomy in production.
Thanh Tam & Lan Anh