Sugarcane farmers expect sweet crop

In recent days, the domestic sugar price has increased sharply, making many farmers in Phung Hiep District in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang, the largest sugarcane growing area in the Mekong Delta, hope for a sweet sugarcane crop.
Sugarcane farmers expect sweet crop ảnh 1 Farmers harvest sugarcane in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)
The domestic wholesale sugar price is currently above VND20,000 per kg - the highest price in the past five years. Tran Cong Thuan, a sugar trader in the Mekong Delta, said that the retail price of granulated sugar ranged from VND21,000 to VND22,000 per kg, while in supermarkets, it was at VND23,000-VND25,000 per kg.

In 2018, the wholesale price of sugar decreased to only VND11,600 per kg, and sugar inventory was full in sugar refineries. That was also the time when several sugar refineries went bankrupt. From ten sugar refineries, the Mekong Delta now has only three refineries struggling to maintain operation in Phung Hiep, Soc Trang, and Tra Vinh provinces. The sugarcane area has also decreased sharply from 90,000 hectares to only 20,000 hectares, concentrated in Hau Giang, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh provinces. The long-standing problem of the sugar industry is the high production cost, unable to compete with sugar-producing countries in the region. Especially, the harvesting stage has not been mechanized, so the labor cost for harvesting sugarcane is extremely high. Along with that, the sugar smuggling across the Southwest border has caused difficulties for domestic sugar refineries.

According to experts in the sugar industry, at present, domestic sugar prices have risen again due to many reasons. Specifically, the global sugar price level rose sharply to US$560 per ton, nearly $100 per ton higher than last year. The Ministry of Industry and Trade issued Decision No.1578, applying an official anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tax on cane sugar products originating from Thailand for five years. These reasons have affected the reference sugar price in the region, leading to an increase in the price of smuggled sugar. The Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association forecasted that the 2021-2022 crop would be a prosperous year for the domestic sugar industry.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Hau Giang Province, the province has 5,410 hectares of sugarcane, mainly in Phung Hiep District and Nga Bay City. So far, more than 1,500 hectares of sugarcane have been harvested and mainly sold to make sugarcane juice at a price from VND1,200 to VND1,400 per kg. The remaining sugarcane area can provide about 200,000 tons of raw material for Phung Hiep Sugar Refinery. The head of Can Tho Sugar Joint Stock Company (CASUCO) said that from December 4, Phung Hiep Sugar Refinery has started to buy sugarcane from farmers to deploy production on December 9. CASUCO expects the sugarcane buying price in the 2021-2022 crop to be VND1,180 per kg at the wharf of Phung Hiep Sugar Refinery. This price is VND250 per kg higher than the previous sugarcane crop.

The sugarcane has experienced many ups and downs over the years, and thousands of farmers have abandoned sugarcane and switched to other crops. Those who still stick to sugarcane are farmers with a tradition of growing sugarcane for many years. Hopefully, farmers will have a sweet sugarcane crop, and the sugar industry can revive after many years of affliction.

By Cao Phong – Translated by Thuy Doan

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