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Southern gardeners miss out on Tet tree profits   2010-01-26 - VietNamNet

While kumquat and peach gardeners in the north are happy because they can be sure of a prosperous Tet sale season, gardeners in the south are more concerned.



70 percent of styled kumquat and peach trees have found owners


Kumquat and peach trees are on show in the homes of most Hanoians on Tet days, while southern people prefer to decorate their homes with apricot trees.


Nguyen Van Chinh, the owner of the apricot garden in Thu Duc District in HCM City, said that by this time last year, he had got seven or eight clients who had placed big orders and paid a deposit.


“Meanwhile, this year just a few people have visited and all are only offering prices too low for me to make a profit,” he said.


Thu Duc District has three key apricot growing wards, Hiep Binh Chanh, Hiep Binh Phuoc and Linh Dong. Apricot trees have been transported from the three wards to HCM City and other provinces in the south.


Gardeners, however, have complained that the bad weather has meant big difficulties for them. The apricots trees have been withering away or blossoming too soon, several months before Tet.


“I have never seen such a strange weather like this year. Apricot trees have blossomed three times so far this year,” said Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, the owner of the apricot garden in Hiep Binh Chanh.


In order to try and save the situation, after the apricot trees blossomed for the third time, gardeners in Thu Duc District pruned branches and tried to hold back blossoming, so that they would blossom at Tet.


However, they fear their efforts won’t be enough to save the apricot gardens. Apricot trees are threatening to blossom for the fourth time with the cold weather and tropical low pressure that has caused rain over the last two days.


According to Tran Ngoc Thao, chairman of Farmers’ Association in Hiep Binh Chanh Ward, the number of apricot gardens wrecked by died flooding and early blossoming now accounts for 30 percent of the total 20 hectares of apricot growing area in the ward.


Apricot trees will be more expensive


“There will be less apricot trees available on the market,” Chinh forecast. “In particular, there will be few beautiful and original trees”.


Apricot gardeners said that the sale prices of apricot trees would be 10-20 percent higher than in previous years.


Hai Dung, a well known gardener in HCM City, who specializes in grafted and bonsai-style apricot trees, said that gardeners this year will prioritize developing small bonsai-style apricot pots priced at 200,000-400,000 dong suitable for medium and higher income earners


Gardeners have said that there will be apricot branches on sale. These will be branches grown naturally without styling or curving and estimated to be priced at 50,000-150,000 dong.


Apricot branches grown in pots, which have a height of 1.5 meters and small canopy, are expected to have the prices of one or two million dong. Meanwhile, big trees with careful styling will be sold at 10 million dong or tens of million dong


“These special products will not be available on the open market, because they will only be sold to special clients who place orders directly with gardeners,” Dung said.

Gardeners may suffer loss

With apricot tree prices expected to increase by just a little and input material prices increasing sharply, gardeners fear they would incur heavy loss.


VietNamNet’s reporters have found out that a bag of specialized fertilizer for an apricot tree is 55,000 dong, an increase of 22,000 dong over 2008, while the fee for  taking care of trees has increased by 30,000-50,000 dong to 80,000-120,000 dong per day.


Meanwhile, according to Chinh, even in the best conditions, only 60-70 percent of the apricot trees are good enough to be sold on the market


The gardeners in HCM City now have to compete fiercely with the products from Ben Tre, Dong Nai, Binh Duong in the south and Nha Trang, Phu Yen in the central region.


Ngoc Bao, the owner of the apricot garden in Long Thanh My Ward in District 9, said that gardeners are now expecting clients with high incomes. The clients will purchase apricot trees to display on Tet and then give the trees back to the gardeners after Tet. The clients, mostly high income earners, will favor trees worth one to three million dong.

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