Dec 3, 2008

Farmers distraught over cassava losses

Viet Nam News - Hanoi,Vietnam 02-12-2008

HCM CITY — The death of over 1,000 ha of cassava plants has affected hundreds of farmers in southern Dong Nai province.

Tran Thi Thu Sau of Dong Nai province’s Vinh Cuu district painfully said that due to the plant’s high profits and low spendings, her family had cut 4 ha of cashew to grow cassava. However, since May, her family’s crop of cassava plants had been dying.
"My family is now 15 million (VND) in debt. We have to sell an ox to pay it back", she said.

According to Nguyen Cong Luat, chief of Vinh Cuu district’s Economic Office, Dong Nai province contains about 20,000 ha of cassava with an output of 400,000 tonnes per year.

Cassava plants had previously brought high profits to farmers, earning them VND25 million (US$1,347) per crop. Many farmers, like Tran Thi Thu Sau’s family, abandoned other crops to reap the rewards of cassava plants.

"1,200 ha of cassava have died in this crop," Luat said. He added that Vinh Cuu district co-operated with the Dong Nai Plant Protection Department to find the causes of the plant’s death. But the answer remained elusive.

Farmers in Vinh Cuu district think that the cassavas have died because the old variety of the plant has degraded. Moreover, they say that cassava was planted on soil that lost many of its nutrients, and that insects and rain have affected the current crops.

Farmers in the districts of Xuan Loc and Long Thanh, however, have a different theory. They think that Vedagro fertilizer manufactured by Vedan Viet Nam Enterprise Corp. Ltd eliminated nutrients in the soil, causing the cassava plants to die.

Tran Anh Tuan, chairman of Xuan Loc District, said that the district had been testing Vedagro fertilizer to determine whether it had had any effect. — VNS

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