Vietnamese farmers suffer from price fall

Farmers in the Mekong Delta are "crying" because of the drop in prices for agricultural products such as rice, pitaya, and sweet potatoes. At the same time, shrimp breeders are suffering because of crop disease and the sharp fall of prices, the lowest in many years.

Now is the harvest time for the summer-autumn paddy crop, and as a rule, the rice prices are low. However, many farmers have decided to sell paddy on the spot because they could not stock rice to wait for higher prices.

Nguyen Cong Ly, a rice farmer in Phuong Thinh commune, Cao Lanh district of Dong Thap province, said: "I planted a fragrant rice variety, a specialty of Dong Thap, but the price is just VND4,100 per kilo. It is lower for other fragrant varieties of rice like OM 4900 and Jasmine (VND4,000/kg) or IR 50404 (VND3,800/kg). At these prices, farmers do not make a profit or even suffer heavy losses if they used hired labor."

Ly said farmers had to sell paddy in the field at low prices because they were afraid of the cost for storage and the reduction of rice quality due to unpredicted weather.

Growers of pitaya and sweet potatoes in Tien Giang, Long An and Vinh Long provinces are also in the similar circumstance. Dragon fruit is piled up on the sidewalks in HCM City and other towns, priced only VND3,000/kg.

Tran Van Hoa, Deputy Head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Division of Cho Gao district, said the district has 4,053 hectares of dragon fruit, with a capacity of about 15 tons per hectare. This year farmers incurred losses because of the low price for this fruit.
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Hoa said premium dragon fruit for export accounts for about 30% of the output. The remaining is classified as second and third class, with very low prices, about VND1,000/kg at the garden. On the sidewalks, it is priced VND3,000.

Shrimp breeders afflicted by disease, low prices

According to incomplete statistics in Tra Vinh province, more than 1 billion breeding shrimp of 25-40 days of age died of diseases, causing huge losses for breeders. 

In the provinces of Tien Giang, Ben Tre, and Soc Trang, the areas of shrimp-breeding areas affected by diseases were also vast. The main reason was weather and disease epidemics. Many households had to stop business to avoid further losses.

Besides disease, the price for shrimps fell to the lowest level in many years.

Le Minh Tuan, a farmer in Hamlet 4, Binh Thoi commune, Binh Dai district, Ben Tre province said he had losses of VND25 million (US$1,200) for feed and baby shrimp, which died en masse. He was not the only one that suffered shrimp epidemics.

Tuan also said that the price for shrimp was also very low, with VND80,000 (nearly US$4) for a kilo of white-legged shrimp (100 shrimps/kg) and VND100,000for a kilo with 70 shrimp, from VND30,000 to VND40,000 (US$1.5-US$2) less than the same period last year.

Nguyen Van Vinh, a shrimp breeder in Binh Thoi commune, Binh Dai district, Ben Tre province said many farmers have become debtors.

Experts said that the poor situation of agricultural production in the Mekong Delta was due to recent difficulties in exports.