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Slump in vegetable exports hits farmers
07 | 10 | 2007
LAM DONG — The dramatic drop in vegetable prices is making it difficult for farmers in Da Lat City and Lam Dong Province, two regions famed for their produce, make ends meet.

Tran Thi Anh, the owner of one of the largest onion gardens in Da Lat, said he’s lucky to break even with the prices so low.

"I have anticipated a serious loss for this year’s crop," said Anh. His garden is 1,000sq.m and employs 10 workers.

Anh now sells a kilogram of onions for VND1,500 (US$0.09), half the price compared to last year.

Farmer Tran Minh Duc said production in 2007 is higher than previous seasons but it doesn’t matter if the market hits a slump.

Duc, who just harvested 13 tonnes of onions, is storing a large portion of his yield in hopes the value will rise to VND2,000 ($0.12) before they spoil.

Many farmers in the region must sell vegetables at any price because they have loans to pay back, said Duc.

Hanh Dong, an experienced trader, said the slumping sector is due to a flood of expensive Vietnamese vegetables in a shrinking market.

"The export price of Vietnamese onions is double that of onions from China, which are also bigger," the trader said.

In 2006, Dong exported between 500 and 600 tonnes of produce during this season. The trader said regular buyers like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan aren’t in the market for Vietnamese produce right now and so made it difficult for him to find buyers for even 200 tonnes of vegetables in March.

Things are even worse in the city’s Don Duong District. Farmers are facing prices as low as VND1,000 ($0.06) per kilogram.

Cabbage growers in the city have what they consider a good product, but no one to sell it to.

Le Chung, a cabbage farmer in Phuoc Thanh District, has invested VND17 million ($1,062) to prepare land and buy seeds, but the few traders willing to buy from him refuse to pay more than VND8 million ($500) for the entire crop.

"I’ve resigned myself to keeping the vegetable in storage for a short time to await an increase in value," said Chung.

Carrot growers in Xuan Tho and Xuan Truong in Lam Dong have been forced to try other crops because few are interested in their produce.

Dao Tien Dung, a Xuan Tho villager, said his family has uprooted 1,800sq.m of carrots because it’s no longer worthwhile.

Dung said he spent VND12 million ($750) to grow the carrots and only saw a return of VND4 million ($250).

"I must destroy a part of the carrot fields to prepare for other seeds," he said.

Farmers in both regions are hoping the State will step in and stabilise the market so they can survive these hard times. — VNS

Vietnam News
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