Farmers who grow watermelon in Cà Mau Province’s Cà Mau City are raking in high profits because of a bumper harvest and rising prices for the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday when the fruit is used on virtually every family altar.
Lê Văn Muội, who grew 4,000 sq.m of watermelon under Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) standards, harvested watermelon last week and sold them for VNĐ8,000 (US 35 cent) a kilo. After deducting all production costs, he was able to earn a profit of VNĐ30 million ($1,300) per 1,000 sq.m. “This is the first year I’ve used VietGAP standards. I’m very happy because I had a bumper crop and high prices,” he said. In previous years, Muội grew watermelon using traditional methods and did not see high profits.
In recent years, growing watermelon for Tết brought high profits for farmers who decided to expand cultivation for the Tết crop.
In Lý Văn Lâm Commune’s specialised watermelon cultivation area, farmers have planted 73 ha for this Tết, up 13 ha against last Tết. Of the figure, 21 ha are planted under VietGAP standards. Farmers have planted red and yellow flesh watermelons and the seedless variety, all of which have had a high yield and good quality. The commune’s watermelon is famous for its sweetness. Many watermelon farmers have escaped poverty and become wealthy, according to the Cà Mau Province Farmers Association, which has organised courses on farming techniques to help them improve their profits. For this crop, farmers earned an average profit of more than VNĐ15 million for each 1,000 sq.m, according to the association. Many farmers who grow vegetables in the commune have applied VietGAP standards for mustard leaves, water spinach, cucumber, bitter melon and tomato.
Nguyễn Chí Thanh, who owns a 1.3 ha garden in the commune’s Chánh Hamlet, said his family had grown five types of vegetables and fruits under VietGAP standards, including bitter melon. Last week, traders purchased his bitter melon for VNĐ10,000 a kilo, which is expected to rise near Tết, he said. “My family will have a good Tết thanks to our use of VietGAP standards,” he said.
Growing VietGAP vegetables normally offers a profit of 15-20 per cent higher than normal vegetables. Nguyễn Văn Nhàn, chairman of the Lý Văn Lâm Commune Farmers Association, said the farmers should develop a brand for vegetables and expand their sales network.
The Lý Văn Lâm Agricultural Service Co-operative, which has planted vegetables under VietGAP standards, plans to develop five sale points in Cà Mau City this year and expand its vegetables planted under VietGAP standards to 10ha. As of last December, the co-operative had planted five hectares of VietGAP vegetables.