Authorities in the southern Vietnamese province of Long An have denied rumors that local dragon fruit farmers are chopping down their trees to sell leaves to Chinese traders for quick cash, instead of waiting till harvest time.
Dragon fruit, one of the most typical Vietnamese green products, is grown on support frames, producing red-skinned fruits with tasty white or red flesh.
It has been rumored in the province’s Long Thanh District recently that traders from China were offering to buy only the plant’s leaves rather than fruits, sending farmers to empty their crops before harvest time to meet the foreign buyers’ demand.
On Monday, Le Van Hoang, director of the provincial agriculture department, said such rumors are false and groundless.
However, Hoang confirmed it is true that some farmers had chopped down their dragon fruit crops, but not to collect leaves to sell to Chinese traders as rumored.
“In fact, these farmers wanted to switch from white-flesh dragon fruit to the red-flesh one, so they had to clear their existing crops,” Hoang explained.
“Most of the cleared trees were old, so farmers hoped replacing them with new plants would result in better yields in the coming crops.”
Farmers have gradually switched to red-flesh dragon fruit in the last year, with the crop now accounting for 40 percent of Chau Thanh’s 7,000 hectares of crops in total.