Mr Le’s fast-growing fruit co-op

Posted on August 14, 2017

Mr Le grafts soursop

Climate change in the Mekong

As rising sea levels push salt water into the Mekong Delta, farmers like Mr Le have to adapt quickly to survive.

Mr Le, 57, grows soursop – a popular fruit in Vietnam. He grafts pond apple root onto his soursop trees so they can grow more quickly in salty conditions, but it’s hard work. When we first met him, he had just grafted 1,500 individual seedlings by hand in a single day. Mr Le also has to pollinate his trees by hand because there are no bees in the region.

Mr Le is just one of many farmers struggling to earn a living as drought and salt water intrusion affect the Mekong Delta – the food bowl of southern Vietnam. Many families struggle on less than $2 a day and are unable to send their children to school.

Mr Le pollinating soursop trees

Co-op supports farmers

We support a soursop cooperative of 29 farmers in Soc Trang province, led by Mr Le. The co-op meets every second month to discuss the market and disease prevention. Members of the co-op not only share their knowledge and experience, but can also use their collective bargaining power to seek good prices.

Mr Le alone harvests 20 tonnes of soursop per year, which sell for AUD$17,500 in Soc Trang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However, competition is strong because everyone harvests their fruit at the same time. Although Mr Le has begun to train his trees to be ready to harvest at a different time, he is also seeking new markets for his crops.

Building a business

With a small loan from the Community Development Fund, Mr Le and the rest of the co-op will be able to attend Vietgap training – a program that will ensure their produce meets rigorous standards.

With Vietgap certification, Mr Le will be able to export his fruit to international markets at higher prices to provide for his family and save for the future.

Want to help more farmers like Mr Le? Your small gift can make a huge difference.

The project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program.

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