Vietnamese farmers feeding their cattle with watermelons
Farmers in Vietnam are feeding leftover unsaleable watermelons to their livestock. The economic climate and changing legislation is forcing farmers to make alternative use of the fruit. Can watermelons be a good alternative for animal feed?
Ms. Dinh Thi Thu, a farmer in Thanh Phu Village, says that her family has harvested only 50% of their 1,200sq.m of watermelon fields. The remaining fruit is beginning to crack and rot in the fields. "Last week traders told us that watermelon trucks were stuck at the border gate. This week they complained that the state authorities were weighing trucks, so that they could not make a profit from watermelons. So they offered us merely VND500 to VND1,000 ($0.025-0.05) per kilo," Thu says.
After harvesting over 30 tonnes of watermelons, Mr. Dang Quang Anh in My Anh Village feels like he's sitting on fire because he cannot contact the trader who deposited VND2 million ($100). "We were happy to have a good watermelon harvest, but now we are in misery because traders unexpectedly stopped purchasing our products. Several days ago they told us that the state had begun weighing trucks. They had to pay more for transport services so their profit was slimmed to the point that they had to stop buying watermelons," Anh says.
Farmers do not know what to do with the ripe melons other than turning them into animal feed. "By eating too much watermelon, many buffalo and cows end up with diarrhoea," says Mr. Phan Duy Khanh, Chair of Tinh Tra Sommune, Son Tinh District.
According to Khanh, dozens of households in Tinh Tra Commune have used at least 750 tonnes of fruit as animal feed. Cattle are fed with ripe watermelons weighing from 3 to 7kg each. Mr. Dinh Van Thao in Tinh Tra Commune cuts watermelons of over 6kg in weight to feed his cows.
A trader explained the predicament from his end: "Last week my truck carried about 40 tonnes of watermelons from Quang Ngai to China. But now, when trucks are weighed, I can only transport 27 tonnes of melons per trip. This means the higher transport costs so I have to slash offering prices."
"On the other hand," he added, "farmers must accept selling melons at these low prices because they cannot afford to keep the fruit.".
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