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19/01/2021 - 13:57

Clean production - Sustainable direction for lemon trees

Over the years, lemons have been considered as a crop of high economic efficiency for many farmers in Long An province. However, lemon growers mainly cultivate according to traditional methods, so the output of the product is not stable. To solve this problem, farmers need to have a strong change in awareness in organizing their production to gradually improve quality and towards stabilizing output for lemon products.

Preliminary processing lemons in the Agricultural Service Cooperative of Ben Luc district

Preliminary processing lemons in the Agricultural Service Cooperative of Ben Luc district 

Focusing on clean production 

Currently, the whole province has 10,832 hectares of lemons, including 8,205 hectares for fruit, concentrated in districts of Ben Luc, Duc Hue, Duc Hoa, Thu Thua and Thanh Hoa. In Thanh Hoa district, farmers have developed the lemon planting area to more than 500 hectares, an increase of nearly 160 hectares over the same period in 2020. The area of lemon is mainly located in Thuan Binh commune, the average yield is 18-20 tons per year hectare per year. 

The biggest difficulty of the lemon growers is currently the unstable consumption market and the low competitiveness of lemon products. According to statistics, the annual output of lemons is about 138,000 tons, but only about 30 percent of the lemon output is contracted by businesses for export, the rest is sold to owners of wholesalers and wholesale markets for consumption inside and outside the province. The number of cooperatives planting lemons, especially the number of VietGAP and GlobalGAP certified establishments, is too small compared to the existing lemon production area. In addition, the province has not yet had a plan and formed a transportation, sorting, packaging, consuming and marketing network to expand the market. In addition, it is also difficult for the cooperatives to access to preferential policies and capital sources to invest in production expansion. 

Director of Thuan Binh Agricultural Service Cooperative (Thanh Hoa district) - Bui Van Khap informed: “In the past time, lemon is a crop with high economic efficiency, annual profit is from 100-300 million VND per hectare. But currently the output of the product is not stable, largely depends on traders. The current price of lemons goes up and down erratically, sometimes up to more than 30,000 VND per kilo, but sometimes it falls, only 4,000-5,000 VND per kilo. Therefore, in order for the output of lemons to be stable, farmers need to change their production methods towards clean production, and create links with businesses in order to avoid situation of good crop – bad price”. 

According to the Head of Division of the Thanh Hoa Agriculture and Rural Development - Nguyen Kinh Kha, the district has coordinated with functional departments and specialized agencies to organize many training sessions, guide people to transform the farming methods according to VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards over the past time. However, the number of areas that farmers have converted to production methods and recognized standards are not much. In the coming time, the district continues to act as a bridge for farmers and businesses to meet, exchange and build raw material areas and purchase in the direction of signing contracts for product consumption. 

Ben Luc is the locality with the largest area of lemon in the province, with more than 7,100 hectares, of which about 1,200 hectares has been applied high technology (HT) in production by farmers. The average annual output is about 80,000 tons, of which the majority of lemons are exported to the world market. 

In recent years, Ben Luc district has implemented many policies to promote the agricultural development program in association with the restructuring of agriculture on lemon trees such as supporting lemon seedlings to 313 households with more than 140,000 seedlings; implemented 10 fields to control pests and diseases in Thanh Loi commune, Thanh Hoa with 160 hectares; supported the economical irrigation system with 27 models on an area of 27 hectares and organized many short-term training courses on farming techniques and pest and disease management for farmers. 

Director of Ben Luc Agricultural Service Cooperative - Tran Duy Thuan said that the cooperative currently has 50 hectares of lemons, of which about 20 hectares are applied HT (water saving, spraying by machine and growing grass to keep water). On average, the cooperative exports about 500 tons of lemons annually to the world, of which the Middle East is the largest markets.

“HT application to agricultural production is an important step in the process of restructuring the agricultural sector in the direction of increasing added value, increasing the competitiveness of agricultural products in the market. Thereby, both raising income for farmers and producing clean products to protect the health of consumers" - Mr. Thuan added. 

Mr. Le Minh Trong (Hamlet 6B, Luong Hoa Commune) confided: “During the drought, saline season in 2019-2020, thanks to the application of economical irrigation and keeping the grass under the lemon root, my lemon garden will not be affected by drought, salinity. Currently, I switch to planting seedless lemons in the direction of GlobalGAP to sign cooperation with The Fruit Republic Company, the selling price will be higher than the market price from 3,000-5,000 VND per kilo”.

Towards the difficult market 

According to the statistics of the Division of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ben Luc District, in 2019, the area of 780 hectares applied HT in the direction of GlobalGAP was contracted by The Fruit Republic Company, by the end of 2020 this area has increased to 910 hectares. These lemons are produced mainly in 39 cooperative groups and 7 lemon-growing cooperatives in the district. Most lemons meet GlobalGAP standards are qualified for export to the world market. 

The head of the Division of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ben Luc District - Le Van Nam shared that the application of HT into production as well as the transformation of production towards VietGAP and GlobalGAP of lemon farmers in the district is presently still facing many difficulties. Specifically, the market for purchasing lemon applying HT has not expanded every year, there is no contract signed between the buyer and the producer, so it is not yet entitled to support in the production association policy according to Decision 14 of the Provincial People's Committee. In addition, climate change and lack of field planning have significantly affected the risk reduction in production. On the other hand, the number of enterprises investing in lemon areas for consumption and deep processing contracts is not much, most of them still sell fresh fruits, so the added value of lemon products is not high. 

“Currently, the export of lemons to Europe is facing many difficulties, particularly some active ingredients in Europe allow use, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has not yet licensed, some active ingredients licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Europe does not accept. The number of active ingredients approved by Europe and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is too small, only about 5-6 active ingredients. In the coming time, we hope the Ministries and Central branches will adjust to allow the use of more active ingredients, in accordance with the standards of some markets so that Ben Luc's lemon products step by step come closer to other countries. The fastidious market in the world, especially the European market", added Mr. Nam./. 

By Bui Tung – Translated by Duc Tam