Vietnamese durian and coffee farmers see unprecedented profits in 2023

By Thi Ha   February 12, 2024 | 05:00 am PT
The record prices of durian, coffee, and rice in 2023 brought significant profits to farmers in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta.

Thoai, a garden owner in the Mekong Delta province of Can Tho, stated that durian farmers had never had a bumper harvest like last year.

The price of this fruit remained high during the peak season, reaching up to VND140,000 (US$5.73) per kilogram at times. For the first time in over a decade, he earned a profit of several billion dong from selling durians.

The high demand is continuing through 2024. In the days leading up to this year's Lunar New Year holiday, which lasts from Feb. 8-14, many gardens in the Mekong Delta were busy harvesting off-season durians for export to China, where many people use durians as gifts for the holiday.

Each five-kilogram durian could be sold for nearly VND1 million ($41), equivalent to about VND200,000 per kilogram.

A durian garden in the Mekong Delta province of Long An. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam

A durian garden in the Mekong Delta province of Long An. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam

Not only in the Mekong Delta, but durian farmers in the Central Highlands also made a large profits last year due to the continuously peaking prices of this fruit.

Cuong, a garden owner in the region’s Dak Lak province, reported earning VND120 billion after harvesting 40 hectares of durians.

2023 was a bumper year for the key agricultural crops of Dak Lak Province, according to Vu Duc Con, deputy director of the Dak Lak Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

Specifically, thanks to good prices of durians, the province earned about VND12,000 billion after harvesting 200,000 tons.

Another agricultural product that brought in huge revenue and helped farmers "change their lives" last year was coffee.

Hoa, from the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum, said her family harvested seven tons of coffee beans in 2023.

With a highest-ever selling price of VND76 million per ton, her family earned more than VND530 million last year. After deducting costs, she made a profit of over VND200 million, she said.

Thoai, Cuong, and Hoa are not the only farmers who had a year with "never-seen-before profit."

"2023 was the brightest year for the export picture of the agricultural sector," said Dang Phuc Nguyen, Secretary-General of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association.

According to him, agriculture continued to affirm its position as a pillar of Vietnam’s economy, with the export value of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries exceeding US$53 billion.

Some agricultural products set historic peaks, including fruits and vegetables' export which surged 70% year-on-year, bringing in more than $5.6 billion, with durians, bananas, jackfruits, longans, and watermelons recording an increase of up to four times compared to the same period.

Rice exports also increased by more than 36% in value.

"Vietnamese agricultural products broke through in export turnover and price, even as the domestic and global economy declined," said Nguyen.

The high global demand for food, along with many fruits being officially exported to the vast market of China, helped Vietnamese agricultural products increase in value and quality, he said.

China is also the largest import market for many Vietnamese agricultural products, at $11.5 billion last year, of which durians alone accounted for more than $2 billion.

Besides durians, 13 other agricultural products have been officially exported to this market, such as bird’s nests and their products, sweet potatoes, dragon fruits, longans, rambutans, mangoes, jackfruits, and watermelons.

Similarly, rice also brought a bumper harvest to farmers.

In previous years, countries like Indonesia, Chile, Ghana bought Vietnamese rice in dribs and drabs, but increased their purchases several times over in 2023. Indonesia moved from the eighth- to the second-largest buyer of Vietnamese rice, after the Philippines last year.

A resident of Ha Mon commune, the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum, harvesting coffee for the 2022-2023 season. Photo by Kieu Loan

A resident of Ha Mon Commune in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum harvests coffee for the 2022-2023 season. Photo by Kieu Loan

The Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development’s 2024 forecast suggests that Vietnamese agricultural products will continue to achieve many successes since the U.S., China, and many Middle Eastern countries favor Vietnamese agricultural products.

The impact of El Nino is expected to reduce the global food supply, presenting an opportunity for Vietnamese agricultural products like rice, durian, and coffee.

For instance, China continued to purchase Vietnamese durians at high prices as Vietnam is the only country with off-season fruits. For rice, seven Vietnamese enterprises won bids to supply 300,000 tons of rice, accounting for 60% of the amount of rice Indonesia wants to import in early-2024, earlier this month.

However, the export of agricultural products also poses many challenges that require solutions from authorities.

"Agriculture is still developing sporadically, small-scale, and spontaneously in Vietnam," said Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development Le Minh Hoan.

"So, authorities, associations, and businesses need to engage with farmers from the beginning [of the production processes] to provide them with enough information, so that they can adjust production."

Minister Hoan also mentioned that the implementation of planting area codes has only been at a promotional level currently. The ministry will make it mandatory for farmers to comply soon.

"Everything must meet standards and regulations to avoid the situation of spontaneous agricultural development," he said.

go to top