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Hà n?iFarmers abandon cashew crops

Many cashew farmers in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) have turned their backs on the crop that pulled them out of poverty and switched to others because of declining yields and volatile prices in the last few years.

Though the region remains one of the countrys major cashew growing areas, farmers blame ageing trees, diseases, low-quality strains, and unfavourable weather were the major reasons for the fall in yields.

In what is still a poor area, cashews helped many farmers escape poverty and even become prosperous Hung Huy, a farmer in Dak Nong Provinces Dak Min District who has cut down his three-hectare cashew orchard to grow coffee, said: "In recent years my annual yield fell relentlessly from three tonnes of nut per hectare to 1.5 tonnes and then to a few hundred kilograms."

The trees age and diseases were the major causes, he said.

Dieu Hen of Dak RLap District, which has the largest area under cashew in Dak Nong Province, has cut down more than half of his 5ha cashew orchard to grow other plants.

Until 2007 the weather had been favourable and cashew suffered less from diseases, so he harvested 14 tonnes a year.

The price of the nuts was also high and his family earned profits of more than VND300 million (US$14,000) a year to escape poverty and become wealthy.

However, in recent years, when the cashew crop enters the blossoming period, there are hoarfrost and unseasonable rains, affecting fruit bearing, he said.

The area under cashew in Dak RLap has fallen from more than 7,000ha to around 6,000ha now, according to the district Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.

Pham Quang Vuong, deputy head of the bureau, said many farmers use traditional methods to grow cashew and do not apply modern technologies, leading to poor quality.

Prices have not been stable in the past few years, with dramatic declines in some of them, he said.

At the same time the cost of inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, and labour have increased, leaving many farmers with bad losses, he said.

In 2001 the Gia Lai Province Peoples Committee decided to increase the area under cashew in Krong Pa District to 10,000ha. But the district only has 4,597ha, mostly in Uar, Ia Rsai, and Chu Rcam communes.

Dinh Xuan Duyen, head of the Krong Pa Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, said: "Only Uar still has a large area under cashew (930ha), and many farmers are no longer interested in cashew."

The Central Highlands has around 83,900ha of cashew, down 20,700ha from 2010, according to official statistics.

To improve yields and prevent the cashew cultivation area from shrinking, the Dak Nong Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has implemented several measures, including zoning the cultivation area for up to 2015.

It has also instructed its district-level offices to consult local authorities and make plans to help cashew farmers make over their orchards, including by providing high-quality strains to replace old ones.

Gia Lai Province plans to have 25,000ha under cashew by 2015 compared to 20,000ha now.

The Gia Lai Peoples Committee has ordered a review of the situation to undertake measures to improve cashew strains.

It has also encouraged and create favourable conditions for cashew processors to sign purchase contracts with farmers.

The Gia Lai Research and Experimental Centre for Irrigation and Agriculture and Forestry has researched into ways to increase yields in the major cashew-growing districts of Krong Chro, Krong Pa and Ia Grai.

 ‘Help each other pig farmers told

Pig farmers in southern Dong Nai Province, which has the countrys largest swine population, must increase co-operation among themselves as they struggle with losses over the last several months, experts say.

At a meeting held in the south-eastern province late last month to discuss the problems and find solutions, several participants stressed that mutual co-operation would help pig farmers reduce production costs, prevent diseases and fight rumours that are negatively impacting the livestock industry.

Pig farmers in Dong Nai have been suffering losses over the past four months because pork prices have fallen from VND50,000-52,000 a kilo in March to VND38,000-40,000 at present.

The main reasons for this are the spreading of rumours that the farmers were using banned chemicals in their animal feed and there has been an outbreak of the blue-ear disease that affects pigs.

"The current prices are about VND5,000-7,000 per kilo lower than the production cost, and farmers are hurting badly," the meeting heard.

Nguyen Thi Sao, who owns a pig farm in Thong Nhat Districts Gia Tan Commune, said she sold about 50 pigs every month and the selling price was VND36,000-38,000 a kilo over the past four months.

"Although I breed piglets and make animal feed by myself, I am still suffering losses of VND20 million a month," she said.

"If pork prices do not rise in the coming weeks, I will have to cutback production to reduce losses," she added.

La Van Kinh, deputy head of the Institute of Agriculture Science for the south, said relevant departments and agencies in the province should improve disease prevention knowledge among farmers and help them increase productivity of sows to reduce production cost.

Over the past years, the blue-ear disease has broken out mostly among pigs raised by households who did not provide proper care and vaccinations for the animals, he said.

This year, the disease has appeared mostly in sites that have experienced outbreaks earlier, he said.

Several pig farmers said that animal feed accounted for 70 per cent of production costs and most materials needed to make it were imported. Hence it was difficult to reduce the price of animal feed.

They called on the Government to set up large areas to produce raw materials used in making animal feed so that production costs of raising pigs could be reduced.

Nguyen Dien Tuong, director of the Dong Nai Agricultural Livestock Products JSC, which has about 20,000 pigs, said he hoped the Government would reduce the import tax on raw materials used to make animal feed and put up technical barriers for imported meat.

Pham Minh Dao, deputy director of the Provinces Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said pig farmers should cooperate with each other in order to ensure stable development of the husbandry sector.

Big farms should cooperate in producing healthy strains and good quality animal feed, establishing and maintaining hygienic slaughterhouses, and setting up raw material producing areas in the province to reduce production costs, he said.

Dong Nai is estimated to have 1.2 million pigs in stock at present.

Plan to lift tea exports, prices
Viet Nam hopes to increase its tea-export prices to the world average and double export turnover by 2015.

Nguyen Quoc Vong from RMIT University Viet Nam, said a national tea committee should be set up to create a legal system, define production standards and generally manage the sectors development.

The proposal was well received by representatives from north-western provinces with

(8/8/2012 11:20:29 AM)

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