Many sugarcane farmers in Hau Giang Province in the Mekong Delta have begun to harvest their crop though the cane is still not mature, fearful of a fall in prices and severe flooding.
For illustration purpose only
They are prepared to sell the cane for just VND1,050-1,100 (5-5.5 cents) per kilogram, but sugar plants and others have expressed unhappiness, according to Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper.
The farmers said they would definitely make a profit now but were unsure if the prices would be better later. Besides, harvesting their crop when floods occur later would cause losses and higher labor costs.
Thus, many cane growers were prepared to settle for lower profits rather than face the risk of losses.
Ut Nho of Hiep Hung Commune was happy to sell his immature cane for VND1,150 a kilogram. He still remembers the losses after waiting for the sugarcane to mature in 2005-06: “The cane price at that time was only VND200 per kilogram, a 30 percent drop within 10 days.”
Agricultural middlemen are not complaining, saying the ROC 16 sugarcane, despite being premature, would be consumed by sugar syrup makers and restaurants selling juice.
Sugarcane experts said an additional 25,000 tons of sugar could be produced if the sugarcane was harvested after full maturity.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong said: “Sugarcane harvested 10 days early will lose one CCS [commercial cane sugar – a percentage of sugar extraction].”
Nguyen Thanh Long, general director of the Can Tho Sugar Joint Stock Company, was not pleased with the premature harvest.
Sugarcane could stand flooding for over 10 days and the floods had not reached alarming levels, he said. It would be best to harvest in November when the cane reach a sugar extraction rate of 9-10 percent, he said.
Truong Van Hien, a sugarcane grower and chief of the district’s Club 200 (for people who produce at least 200 tons of cane per hectare), said it was always better to let the sugarcane crop mature rather than cultivate a rice crop in that time.
The higher rate of sugar extraction and heavier weight of the mature cane would fetch more money, he said, and the difference would be many times higher than the income from a rice crop.