Vietnamese farmers start sugarcane harvest but prices remain lackluster
Viet Nam News/ANNFarmers have begun harvesting sugarcane in Hau Giang Province, the country's largest producer, but do not expect to earn high profits since prices are low. Sugar mills in Hau Giang offer a price of 850 dong (US$0.04) per kilogram to sugarcane that has at least 10 CCS (commercial content sugar), around 70 dong (US$0.003) less than last year.
September 23, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Tran Quang Hanh of Vi Thanh city's Tan Tien Commune said with costs at around 700 dong a kilogram and average yield of 130 tons per hectare, farmers were likely to earn a profit of 7-12 million dong (US$333-571) per hectare. With sugarcane being a nine-month crop, this translates to around 1 million dong (US$47) a month.
Hau Giang farmers have planted more than 14,000 hectares this year, 500 hectares more than last season. The Can Tho Sugar Company (Casuco) has signed contracts with farmers in Phung Hiep district to buy cane grown on 8,700 hectares of the district's total 9,550 hectares. The Long My Phat Sugar and Alcohol Company has signed contracts for the remaining 800 hectares. But farmers say when the harvest season peaks, most will sell to traders at lower price than offered by the mills because of problems with transporting the cane to the mills.
Nguyen Hai, general secretary of the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association, said farmers faced difficulties because of their small scale of production and lack of mechanization. In Thailand, India, and Brazil, the world's major sugarcane producers, mills pay US$24-29 a metric ton, but in Vietnam they pay US$47 though the quality of sugarcane is lower, he said.
Nguyen Thanh Long, chairman of the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association and general director of the Can Tho Sugar Company (Casuco), said sugarcane prices were down because sugar prices had declined.
Sugar mills had difficulty selling their products because of smuggled sugar in from Thailand, he said.
The mills now have 280,000 tons in stock compared to 100,000 tons at the same time last year, according to Long. With the price of sugar unlikely to exceed 14,000 dong (US$0.66) a kilogram this season or equal to the production price Casuco would not increase the price of sugarcane, he said.
At the beginning of the sugarcane planting season, Casuco organized training courses for farmers and introduced new high-yield sugarcane varieties.
This year sugar mills nation-wide have agreed to begin sugar production on Sept. 20, according to the association. Farmers have planted more than 306,000 hectares of sugarcane, nearly 8,000 hectares more than last year, it added.