Mekong Delta islet gives up rice, switches to soursop

10:16 | 16/06/2018
More farmers in Tien Giang Province’s Tan Phu Dong Islet have switched to soursop in coping with the adverse effects of climate change. 
mekong delta islet gives up rice switches to soursop
Soursop has become one of main key fruits in Tien Giang Province’s Tan Phu Dong District. - VNA/VNS Photo Minh Tri

Tran Van Phuc, who has a 1ha soursop orchard in Tan Phu Commune, said it fruits regularly and fetches profits of VND50–70 million (US$2,200-3,000) annually.

In the past, when he grew rice, he did not earn so much, he said.

Tan Phu Dong Islet District, located in the Tien River, a tributary of the Mekong, is affected by saltwater intrusion and drought in the dry season, and only hardy plants can thrive there these days.

The district’s agricultural restructuring plan to 2020 focuses on crops that can cope with climate change and offers high value, like soursop.

The area under soursop in the district has increased from 600ha in 2015 to nearly 1,000ha now, with 650ha yielding fruits with an average output of 15-17 tonnes per hectare per year, according to the Tan Phu Dong Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.

Five of the district’s six communes grow soursop.

Nguyen Van Dau, vice chairman of the Tan Phu Commune People’s Committee, said the soil here is suitable for the fruit, which can help reduce poverty in the commune, he said.

Nguyen Thi Tuyen, one of many farmers to escape poverty by growing soursop in the commune, said she had turned her 1ha rice field into a soursop orchard four years ago.

The plant bears fruits year round and fetches many times the income rice does, she said.

In Tan Phu, which has about 400ha of soursop and is the largest soursop planting area in Tan Phu Dong, 70 per cent of farmers have turned their paddies into soursop orchards.

Local agricultural officials have taught farmers the techniques of planting the fruit and producing seedlings.

Soursop is sold at the orchard for VND5,000-30,000 a kilogramme depending on the time of the year. The price is high during Tet (the Lunar New Year), when the demand is high.

The local soursop is sold mostly to HCM City, where it is in great demand as fresh fruit and for making jams.

Nguyen Van Hai, head of the Tan Phu Dong Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, said: “The potential for developing soursop in the district is high, so the bureau is focused on finding outlets for it.”

The district has called on companies to guarantee outlets for farmers, he said.

If demand is steady, the lives of people in the district would improve significantly, he said.

VNA

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