Mekong delta mobilises to support miscalculating king orange farmers with a glut

Saturday, Feb 18, 2023 08:25

Oranges being sold at a supermarket in HCM City. The Mekong Delta has been mobilised to consume king orange, a huge amount of which is unsold, causing distress to farmers. — Photo courtesy of Central Retail

Localities in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are joining hands to consume the huge volumes of unsold king oranges grown by farmers in Vinh Long and Hau Giang provinces amid oversupply.

Nguyen Van Tam, head of the Sub-Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vinh Long’s Tra On District, said before Tet (Lunar New Year) the oranges fetched VND8,000-10,000 per kilogramme, but farmers waited to sell hoping for higher prices later as happened in previous years.

But the price has not increased after Tet while the harvest has been huge this year, causing prices to drop further and sharply, he said.

According to the Vinh Long Province Farmers Association, traders buy 200 tonnes of king oranges from farmers every day at VND1,500-4,000 per kilogramme depending on size, with overripe ones only selling for VND1,500-2,000. At such low prices, farmers face heavy losses, it said.

Nguyen Van Liem, deputy director of the Vinh Long Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said an estimated 50,000 tonnes need to be sold.

Local authorities and the Farmers Association have managed to help farmers sell some of their stocks, including on e-commerce platforms, he said.

The province has also called for support for farmers, he said.

GO! and Big C supermarket chains rolled out a programme called “Accompanying farmers” on February 15 and hope to buy around 25 tonnes of king oranges at VND10,000 a kilogramme directly from farmers and co-operatives.

Nguyen Thi Bich Van, head of communications for Central Retail in Viet Nam, said: “We buy oranges directly from farmers and cooperatives in Vinh Long Province without going through intermediaries.”

The supermarket chain is selling the oranges at no-profit prices of VND10,900 in the south and VND12,900 in the central and Central Highlands regions, she said.

District 5 in HCM City is also carrying out a programme to support the orange farmers, with local individuals and businesses ordering nine tonnes of the fruit.

The Student Support Centre of Can Tho is coordinating with the city Labour Cultural House to support farmers. They will buy oranges directly from orchards at VND4,000-4,500, and hope to consume around 14 tonnes by February 19.

Volunteers are also helping farmers sell their fruits in HCM City and elsewhere.

Speaking with Cong Thuong (Industry) newspaper, Nguyen Nhu Cuong, head of the Crop Production Department, attributed the oversupply to a rapid increase in cultivation area in recent years while outlets remain limited since the variety of orange is mainly consumed in the domestic market and only to make juices.

His department would coordinate with localities to try and prevent a repeat of this situation in future, he added. — VNS

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