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Farmers face low prices amid bumper watermelon harvest
Monday, February 18, 2019

Farmers face low prices amid bumper watermelon harvest

It has been a bumper harvest for watermelon growers in the Central Highlands this year, but they are facing empty profits even with this bonanza as prices have slumped to a dirt cheap rate.


Pham Tien Trinh, a Quang Ngai resident who rented a land plot to grow watermelon in Dak Lak Province’s Krong Na Commune, has a 60-ton watermelon crop that is set to be harvested in one week, but Trinh is extremely concerned about where the fruit will go.

Each watermelon weighs 10 to 15 kilograms, but buyers are almost impossible to find at the moment, he lamented.

“The traders who used to buy watermelon to resell to Chinese traders have seemingly disappeared this year,” he said.

“If I don’t sell the fruits within one week of the harvest, they will become inedible.”

Elsewhere, in Cu M’Lan Commune, where hundreds of growers from Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, and Phu Yen have watermelon crops, the situation is no better.

“We have all suffered losses as selling prices have dropped to throwaway rates,” said Dao Duy Ky, one of the beleaguered farmers.

“I have sunk nearly VND200 million into the crop, only to sell the fruits for VND800 – 1,000 each.”

Farmers in Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces, meanwhile, have even had to sell their fruits on the street, of course, at dirt cheap prices as well.

Game of luck

Huynh Thi Kim, a farmer in Kon Tum, said she and many other households have used bank loans to join the watermelon-growing rush, which began last year when prices were as high as VND7,000 – 8,000 a kg.

“But when harvest time comes, no one comes to buy the fruits,” she said.

Many farmers attributed the slumping prices to falling consumption in China, their main market.

“It’s getting cold in China now, so there is no demand for this juicy fruit,” Ky, from Cu M’Lan Commune, elaborated.

“Earlier the Chinese traders announced that the weather would be hot at this time of the year, so all of the farmers expanded their crops,” he added.

Meanwhile, the division under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development that manages agricultural products said there is no official information stating that China has stopped buying watermelon from Vietnamese farmers.

“We are verifying the information from the Chinese side to determine a solution,” said Do Van Nam, head of the division.

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