|Salt being harvested in Long Dien district’s An Ngai Commune, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province
They are happy because prices are steady at 1,100-1,200 VND (0.04-0.05 VND) per kilogramme.
Just after the Lunar New Year early this month salt fields in Long Dien district’s An Ngai commune, the largest in the province at a combined 350ha, were crowded with harvesting farmers.
Huynh Van Thuyet, a local salt producer, was happy that this year he could harvest thrice with the three-hectare field yielding more than 35 tonnes the last time compared to just 20 tonnes the previous time.
In previous years lesser sunshine meant the harvest would go on for 13-15 days or even longer, but this season, because of the large number of hours of sunshine, it took only eight to 12 days to produce salt of good quality, he said.
Nguyen Van Gia, another farmer in An Ngai, said he used plastic sheets to cover his four-hectare field and harvested more than 30 tonnes on two occasions.
He has one more hectare of salt field, which he has yet to harvest. The constant wind contributed to harvesting early this year, he said.
Salt from previous harvests had been sold out since prices had been steady, and so the production this season was being fully consumed in the market, he said.
In other salt fields in ward 12 and Long Son Island in Vung Tau city, people are harvesting for the first time this year.
Nguyen Van Thanh, a farmer, said in 2017 and before that producers had suffered losses after prices dropped to 400-700 VND per kilogramme.
Many of them even gave up salt farming, and as a result the production area in the province had reduced, he said.
It is down by 100ha to 714ha, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Most of the fields are in Long Dien district and cities of Ba Ria and Vung Tau.
Nguyen Le Yen Ha, deputy head of the department’s Division for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance, said the department had collaborated with its counterparts in Kien Giang, Binh Thuan and other provinces and HCM City to ensure all the salt would be bought.
It has urged the provincial People’s Committee to offer incentives to companies investing in factories for salt processing and the Ba Ria Salt brand name.
The province is upgrading infrastructure for salt production, including dredging of four canals to supply water to salt fields.
Two large areas for storing salt are being created in Long Dien district at a cost of 42.3 billion VND.
The province produces nearly 40,000 tonnes of salt a year, with farmers earning nearly 50 million VND (2,150 USD) per hectare if they use traditional production methods without plastic sheets to cover the field and around VNĐ106 million if they use the sheets. Its main markets are the south-western provinces.