Ben Tre Province Focusing on Main Fruit Trees

2:53:10 PM | 22/1/2007

Durian, green-skinned grapefruit, mangosteen, and orange are four fruit trees Ben Tre province is developing into spearheaded fruit trees in its garden economy.
Working out the development orientations, Ben Tre province is striving to find a new development step, suitable to its existing conditions and international integration process. This is also considered a good way for Ben Tre province to learn to escape the poorly-planned development of gardens in the Mekong delta, which result local farmers suffering from low prices due to a lack of spearhead crops to meet the market demand.
Lessons from massive farming…
More than a decade ago, when longan was first introduced in Ben Tre province, it shocked many garden owners. Longan was priced at VND 30,000 per kilogram. As the fruit is expensive and easy for farming, within two years, farmers rushed to grow it. Many local farmers have become prosperous as, apart from selling fruit, they also sold seedlings priced between VND 5,000 and 6,000 each. However, as a rule, when the supply exceeded the demand, prices fell sharply, from more than VND 10,000 to 5,000, then 3,000. As calculated, selling their longan at the exsting price, farmers in Ben Tre no longer earned profits.
Apart from longan, the growing of sweet oranges was another good lesson for local farmers. Some years after the failure of longan farmers, the growing of sweet oranges saw a phenomenal boom which saw many farmers becoming millionaires. Following them, many farmers abandoned the farming of coconuts and sugarcane to grow oranges. The fruit tree was grown mainly in Mo Cay district. However, it was hard for local farmers when their trees suffered from a greening disease when they were around six years old. As a result, price of high quality oranges was just between VND 5,000 and 7,000 per kilogram. It stood even at around VND 2,000 per kg. Prices often went up in the sunny season but this is also the time orange trees struggled against salty water. Therefore, it was difficult for trees to produce high quality fruit. Farmers started to abandon orange trees to turn to the farming of coconuts, grass and other crops.
…and development of main fruit trees
According to statistics, Ben Tre has now around 41,000 hectares of fruit trees, producing around 380,000 tonnes of fruit each year. The province has fruit trees of high quality, such as durian, mango, mangosteen, rambutan, longan and grapefruit. Among them, Ben Tre has chosen four; durian, mangosteen, grapefruit and orange as its main fruit trees.
Nguyen Trung Chuong, deputy director of the Ben Tre Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the fruit trees were suitable to conditions of some places in Ben Tre province. Apart from price advantages in the market, these kinds of fruit are easier for transportation than other fruits. Hoa Loc mango is a speciality, which won awards at fairs in foreign countries, but is difficult for preservation and transportation.
Durian in Ben Tre is considered the king of fruit with a high nutrition value. Ben Tre now has around 2,000 hectares of durian, mainly in Cho Lach and Chau Thanh. High quality durian varieties from Ben Tre have become famous. Billionaire Chin Hoa in Vinh Thanh commune, Cho Lach district, has registered a trademark for his durian, which was recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as the top durian variety, coded S1 BL.
With its delicious taste, mangosteen is considered the queen of fruits. Even though it is difficult to grow the fruit in other localities, Ben Tre province has favourable conditions for the farming of the fruit. Ben Tre has developed a project of farming 2,500 hectares of mangosteen. Mangosteen is farmed with coconuts mainly in Cho Lach and Chau Thanh districts. The province now produces 3,500 tonnes of mangosteen. 
Green-skinned grapefruit is a new variety of fruit in Ben Tre province. After years of being second to Nam Roi grapefruit in terms of quality, green-skinned grapefruit surpassed Nam Roi grapefruit to occupy the top spot. The growing of the fruit earned Ba Ro in Thanh Tan commune, Mo Cay district, a prosperous life. Ba Ro has registered a trademark for his grapefruit for export. Ben Tre province has recently planned to develop around 1,000 hectares of the fruit for export.
Orange has been chosen as a main fruit tree in Ben Tre province, mainly in the districts of Mo Cay, Giong Tom and Binh Dai.
PhD Nguyen Minh Chau, director of the Southern Fruit Tree Institute, said Ben Tre’s chosen development orientations are suitable for the short and long term market demand. The province’s agriculture is taking advantage of each region to develop its strategies for developing concentrated fruit farming areas for export.
Thanh Nga