Ben Tre’s vast coconut groves

(VOVWORLD) - Most of Ben Tre’s vast coconut groves are in the western districts of Chau Thanh, Cho Lach, Mo Cay, and Giong Trom. Annually, the province harvests 600 million coconuts from 70,000 hectares of land to lead Vietnam in both growing area and production output. Ben Tre brand coconut products are diverse and account for 85% of the region’s total output.  
Ben Tre’s vast coconut groves - ảnh 1 Tam Trung cooks coconut milk with malt, a crucial ingredient to produce coconut candies

Tam Trung’s Dat Dua candy workshop is located in Tan Thanh hamlet. Trung and his family use traditional methods to make coconut candy. Tran Thi Huong, a worker at Dat Dua workshop, described to us the steps used to make coconut candy while wrapping candies in paper.

She said: “First the coconut flesh is separated from the hard shell, ground, and all of the bits of the brown skin is removed. The white coconut is dried on a hot pan for 45 minutes, then cooled, molded into bite-sized pieces and wrapped in paper. All steps are done manually.”

Ben Tre’s vast coconut groves - ảnh 2 Workers are wrapping coconut candies in paper

Every day, Trung’s workshop welcomes hundreds of foreign visitors who come to see how sticky coconut candies are made and, of course, to buy some candy. Even while attending to crowds of visitors, Trung still has to pay close attention to making his coconut products.

“Ben Tre is home to many coconut trees. All parts of the coconut are useful. The tree-trunk is used to make fine art pieces. Coconut flesh is for candies while the hard shell is used to make char coal. Coconut juice is for making coconut jelly. When coconuts turn browner and lighter, we use the flesh to make coconut oil or food for fish,” said Trung.

Ben Tre’s vast coconut groves - ảnh 3 Fine arts articles made of coconut.  

On display at Trung’s workshop are numerous fine art pieces, including baskets, containers to keep teapots hot, clocks, and toy animals – all made by Tan Thanh villagers.

Tu Dang who has created statues from coconut tree trunks, said: “In the past growing coconut trees didn’t produce much income. But it always offered a stable livelihood because all parts of coconut trees are useful. To make fine art pieces, the trees must be 40 years old or more.”

Phan Thu Nguyet, who has long been involved in coconut-based fine arts, told VOV: “Our living conditions have much improved thanks to making fine arts products. We, for example, can utilize the most of free time to make decorative lanterns from coconut stems.”

Ben Tre’s vast coconut groves - ảnh 4

 For some locals, the coconut tree has been closely linked to their lives for years. It has entered Vietnamese literature and poetry and helped the villagers achieve heroic feat of arms during times of national defense.

Nguyet said the coconut tree symbolizes the Ben Tre people, who are also sturdy and proud, adding: “Generally coconut trees are close to the locals. In the lyrics of a song called ‘Posture of the Coconut Tree’, the tree represents the friendliness and hospitality of Ben Tre people.”

Ben Tre is famous for its coconut industry. Everything that comes from coconut trees, including the trunk, the leaves, hard-shells, the fiber – even coconut worm larvae - can be used in cooking or made into something for export.

Ben Tre’s products are available in 68 countries and territories bringing the province revenues of 200 million USD a year and comprising 40% of the province’s total exports turnover.

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