Soc Trang’s purple star apple farmers prosper as exports to US grow

(VOVWORLD) - Forming cooperatives and applying new farming techniques to produce safe, high-quality products have helped purple star apple growers in Ke Sach district, Soc Trang province, stop worrying about their output. Ke Sach purple star apples sell at a high, stable price and are exported.
Soc Trang’s purple star apple farmers prosper as exports to US grow - ảnh 1Loc Mai-branded purple star apples have been exported to the US. (Photo: Thach Hong)

Over the past 4 years, Su Bao Quoc, a Ke Sach farmer, has not worried about finding an outlet for his star apples because all the fruit grown on his 6,000 square meters have been bought by an enterprise for export to the US at a price twice the market price.

Quoc told VOV that since he joined the Loc Mai Agriculture Cooperative, his family's income has increased significantly. 

“Before joining the cooperative, Quoc’s family only earned about 4,200 USD a year. In recent years, our sales volume has been stable, and we’ve doubled our revenue,” Quoc recalled.

They used to spend a lot of money buying fertilizers, but now the expenditure for that has dramatically dropped thanks to a new method of wrapping the fruits. Quoc said, “In the past, every 7 or 8 days, I had to spray pesticide. Now I spray once a month. Once the fruit is big enough, no pesticide is needed.”

Soc Trang’s purple star apple farmers prosper as exports to US grow - ảnh 2Su Bao Quoc, a Ke Sach farmer, has no longer been worried about finding an outlet for his star apples. (Photo: Thach Hong)

The 42 hectares of purple star apples of the 23 cooperative members annually turns out between 1,000 and 1,200 tons. Right from the beginning of each crop, the cooperative works with enterprises to sell the entire crop at a price of 1.3 USD a kilo.

In addition, the cooperative sells 1 to 1.5 tons of purple star apples a week to supermarkets and high-end stores in neighboring localities like Can Tho, Dong Thap, and Tien Giang.

Since linking with exporters, the value of the co-operative's star apples has increased remarkably. The selling price is about 7 US cents a kilo higher than the market price.

This year, more than 12 tons of purple star apples have been exported to the US, said Su Quoc Loc, Director of Loc Mai Agriculture Cooperative.

“Since the start of this crop, I have sold more than 12 tons to 2 companies. We expect to export 500 tons, an optimistic number based on a relatively good yield. This year, our fruit has met the standards set by the purchasing company to export to the US,” said Loc.

Contract sales have improved the quality of purple star apples and changed the farmers’ method of tending the fruit trees.

Chemical fertilizers have been replaced by organic and microbial fertilizers and the fruit is wrapped at an early stage to limit pest damage.

Farmers have taken steps to prolong the harvest time instead of letting all the fruit ripen at the same time, so the star apples don’t pile up and the price stays high.

32 hectares of the Loc Mai Agricultural Cooperative have received the VietGap Certificate of Good Agricultural Practices.

Soc Trang’s purple star apple farmers prosper as exports to US grow - ảnh 3Star apples are in the harvest time (Photo: Thach Hong)

According to Vu Ba Quan, Head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Section of Ke Sach district, local cooperatives have found businesses to buy and export the fruit to the US.  

“To meet the requirements of buyers in demanding markets like the US, our farming techniques improve each year,” said Quan.

For example, Quan said farmers wrap the fruit early and lengthen the harvest so they can supply more fruit to the market. They have fully complied with regulations on growing area codes to protect the environment and ensure product quality traceability.

What the Loc Mai Agriculture Cooperative has done proves the effectiveness of linking in agricultural production and the importance of cooperatives, an inevitable trend and a sustainable economic model that improves product quality, increases income, and makes farmers' lives better.



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