Southern provinces should choose two or three important fruit varieties and make zoning plans for them in each locality to develop concentrated fruit-farming areas, a top agricultural official has said.
Speaking at a conference in HCM City on Monday, Pham Van Du, deputy head of the Cultivation Department, said this would help overcome the problems of small scale of production and poor efficiency and find markets.
The region, which enjoys climatic and soil advantages, has large areas under orchards and is the country's most important fruit-growing area.
In recent years fruit production here has grown significantly in terms of cultivation area, varieties and output.
But it still faced many problems like small scale and scattered cultivation, inconsistent quality, demand volatility, diseases, low global competitiveness, and lack of linkages between businesses and farmers, according to Du.
The southern provinces have so far zoned for 14 fruits in 146,760ha out of the 408,300ha on which fruits are grown. But it has been only at the district level and percolated no lower, Du said.
Nguyen Minh Chau, director of the Southern Fruit Research Institute, said that besides, some had chosen to grow fruits that are less competitive in terms of quality compared to those grown in other provinces.
Chau Nghe mango grown in Tra Vinh, for instance, could not compete with something like Hoa Loc mango, so the province should reconsider it, he said.
Delegates at the conference agreed that the zoning plans must be accompanied by the application of Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) standards to satisfy also the export markets.
But Vo Mai, deputy chairwoman of the Viet Nam Gardening Association, pointed out that since consumers remained unaware of VietGap-certified fruits, farmers who grow them could not compete with others who grow normal fruits.
She and other delegates asked the Government to quickly come up with a logo for VietGap fruits.
She also wanted the Government and local authorities to help farmers obtain the Gap certificate and to have policies encouraging enterprises to build more packaging plants and warehouses to reduce post-harvest losses.
Hoang Quoc Tuan, director of the Agriculture Planning and Design Institute's Agriculture Planning Centre, said provinces should upgrade infrastructure in fruit farming areas and promote trade.
Many delegates called on provinces to co-operate to develop large fruit growing areas and secure markets for their produce.
In 2010 the southern region produced more than 4.1 million tonnes, or 57.4 per cent of the country's fruit output.
It is planned that by 2020 the area under fruit will increase to 418,000-438,000ha, yielding over 5 million tonnes annually.