Farmers withdraw from growing safe dragon fruit because of low price

In order to expand its market and provide safe fruit to consumers, for eight years, farmers in the central province of Binh Thuan had followed VietGAP standards (Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practice), yet consumption of the fruit declined resulting in farmers’ despair.
Farmers withdraw from growing safe dragon fruit because of low price
According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, dragon fruit is grown in over 27,500 hectare of accounting for 63 percent of the province’s agriculture land.
In 2009, to meet the market’s demand and for sustainable development of the tree, People’s Committee in Binh Thuan Province encouraged local people to grow the fruit in accordance to VietGAP standards.
Till now, over 7,900 hectare of dragon fruit have implemented the standard with participation of 9,000 farmers in 400 cooperatives.
Head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Pham Huu Thu said that the farm land for growing the fruit shrank and many farmers have withdrawn from the project to grow the fruit according to VietGAP standards.
As per the center for dragon fruit development center in Binh Thuan, in first six months of the year, no more land for growing the fruit are certified VietGAP.
Chairman of Dragon Fruit Association in Binh Thuan Vo Huy Hoang said farmers’ awareness of growing safe produces is high; however, price of VietGAP – standard dragon fruit is as same as normal kinds; as a result, farmers did not grown the safe fruit.
Farmer Le Thi Khiet who participated in growing VietGAP – standard dragon fruit in three years in Ham Thuan Bac District said it requires time, efforts to grow the fruit according to VietGAP standards yet its price is as same as non-standard fruit; as a result, farmers decided not to grow VietGAP- standard fruit any more.
Moreover, safe fruit is smaller and less beautiful looking than their unsafe counterpart because farmers do not utilize pesticide, so traders refuse to buy.  
Farmer Pham Huu Thu said that over 80 percent of dragon fruit in Binh Thuan is exported to China where safe standards are not required; however, in the future, if Chinese authority requires safe fruit and certificate, the local sector will face barriers.
To solve the problem, the chairman of fruit association said that at first authority should place safe fruit at top priority and buy all; people will take part in growing safe fruit project when consumption of these fruit is ensured.
Additionally, the government should buy VietGAP-standard fruit a bit more expensive as an incentive.

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