Ben Tre applies advanced technologies in the coconut production industry

As one of the 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta, with the largest coconut area in the region and the country, Ben Tre is famous throughout the country for its potential product, coconut trees. In Ben Tre, immense coconut groves are concentrated in the western districts such as Chau Thanh, Cho Lach, Mo Cay, and Giong Trom.

The province’s coconut growing area is over 74,000 hectares with an output of over 612 million fruits. Thanks to active technological innovation, the quality of coconut products has been improved, helping the industrial production value of coconut products reach about 3,300 billion VND/year, accounting for over 12% of the industrial production value of the province.

Bright spots in export

In the past years, the technology and equipment of the coconut processing industry of Ben Tre was still rudimentary, produced entirely by hand, with a low to medium level. Products processed from coconut have low value, difficult to enter the export market.

Currently, thanks to the application of scientific and technological advances to production, the coconut processing industry in  Ben Tre  has made great progress, bringing this industry to quickly integrate with the world coconut processing industry. New processing technology has helped diversify and improve product quality.

High-end product lines, with good standardization in terms of quality, variety and enhancement of added value of coconut products such as coconut milk, coconut cream, virgin coconut oil and products from virgin coconut oil… has been exported to many countries and regions around the world.

In 2020, the value of industrial production of coconut reached 5,880 billion VND, export turnover reached nearly 347 million USD, a sharp increase compared to other years. According to the Department of Industry and Trade of Ben Tre, despite being affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, in the first six months of 2021, export coconut products reached $192.15 million, up 15.14% over the same period.

Thanks to processing, the added value of products processed from coconut throughout the province has increased many times. Typically, desiccated coconut products have an export value 5 times higher than that of coconut fruit. Compared with desiccated coconut, coconut milk powder has 4 times higher value; coconut milk, coconut cream has 2 times higher value.

Particularly, pure coconut oil products are 10 times more valuable than crude coconut oil. Only hard coir, only single and double fibers, ropes from coconut have an export value of 3-4 times higher than just raw fiber. Rubber sprayed coir has increased in value 10 times after processing from raw fiber. In particular, canned coconut water is 300 times more valuable than traditional fresh coconut water.

A typical enterprise is Indochina Coconut Co., Ltd (in Tan An hamlet, Tan Binh commune, Mo Cay Bac district), the largest producer of coir mats in Ben Tre province, with a monthly revenue of about 5 billion. Previously, the unit mainly produced coir mats by manual method. Currently, through the application of new technology, the company has self-researched and improved, manufacturing single and double coir threading machines, braiding ropes to serve as raw materials for carpet weaving for export. From only coconut fiber worth about 3,000 VND/kg, through the stages to become an export carpet worth over 10,000 VND/kg, exported to many places on the world market.

Coconut processing goes into depth

The whole province of Ben Tre currently has about 182 enterprises producing and processing coconut products, with many different types and scales of operation. Some main industries such as processing coconut shells, coconut shells, copra, coconut water account for 28.52% of the total number of enterprises with industrial production activities in the province, creating jobs for more than 9,500 workers.

In order to meet the market demand, over the past time, businesses have constantly invested in innovation of production technology, researched new products… After 5 years of implementation, the product structure of coconut products is available. change.

The amount of traditional products tends to decrease such as coconut candy, only coir, desiccated coconut. New items are on the rise such as coconut milk, canned coconut water, cans, activated carbon, coconut oil…

Developing many new products has brought high value to the coconut processing industry and met a wide range of uses and is environmentally friendly. Prominent products such as pure coconut oil, coconut mask, hand sanitizer from coconut oil, paper production from coconut ships for packaging, bags, interior decoration, art paintings, calligraphy… replace plastic and nylon products and products with healthy nutritional value such as coconut nectar. Coconut nectar can be processed into products such as sugar, vinegar, wine, high alcohol, light drinks, … in line with current consumer trends.

Processing and consumption of coconut fruit is increasing. Currently, the processing capacity has outstripped the production of dried coconut harvested in the province. The current capacity of the processing plants is capable of consuming 1,254 million coconuts/year. In 2020, about 584 million coconuts have been processed, equivalent to 109% of the province’s harvested dried coconut production.

Science and technology help improve the value of coconuts

Scientific research and technological development along the value chain in the province have initially made positive changes. The introduction of coconut genetic resources and selection of leading varieties have quickly provided a large number of qualified coconut seedlings, seedlings that have been naturally adapted to ecological conditions.

In addition, it has focused on comprehensive research on the coconut value chain, especially studies on nutritional values, uses and technology transfer of coconut products with high economic value.

In addition, the functional branches of the province also study horizontal and vertical linkage models in agriculture, coconut consumption markets, coconut products in the world, forms of cooperation and product distribution in the market. world school…

In the application and innovation of technological equipment, the functional branches of Ben Tre organized the rapid multiplication of coconut varieties with high yield, good quality, disease resistance, and tolerance to adverse ecological conditions. .

Along with that, the province has also deployed and replicated the model to overcome the phenomenon of fruitless coconuts (hanging coconuts), improve the yield of coconut oil, and biological management processes for heliotropes, borers. fruit… harmful on coconut trees. Breeding and releasing parasitic wasp Tetrastichus brontispae parasitizes the pupae of the coconut beetle.

Local businesses apply and replicate the coconut shelling machine, brown peeling machine, coir drying equipment, and improve and perfect the water coconut cutting equipment. The functional sector also transferred equipment according to direct scraping and pressing technology to produce virgin coconut oil on a small scale and developed fluidized bed drying technology for desiccated coconut products.

For fresh coconuts to drink water, processing enterprises build preservation models and apply Tetra Pak’s UHT (high temperature treatment) technology directly, which helps coconut water after being processed to retain its smell. taste, natural color, inherent nutritional value.

Ben Tre Department of Science and Technology also upgraded and strongly developed products from coconut by-products such as: clean nutritious soil, organic fertilizer from coco peat, coal bran. Over the past time, Ben Tre has also developed advanced linkage models in farming, production and trade of the coconut industry.

For coconut growing areas and businesses, cooperatives, cooperative groups producing and trading coconut products, they are supported with funding for the construction, application and first certification of GlobalGAP and VietGAP standards.

Thanks to the application of science and technology, in recent years, Ben Tre coconut industry has made strong progress, creating many jobs, improving people’s living standards, making an important contribution to socio-economic development of the province.

Ngô Mai Hương

Department of Information, Library and Trade Promotion – VIOIT