Tam Hoa plums (Prunus salicina) in the maize-based system in the North-West Highlands of Vietnam
Tam Hoa plum is one of three hybrids of the Japanese plum (Prunus salicina), originating from southern China, and grown between 700 and1000 m altitude in north-west Vietnam for the domestic market. Along with some leguminous crops grown in rotation with maize, plums are an important source of additional income for smallholders. The aim of the project was to develop competitive value chains for plums with high levels of smallholder engagement. The research design was both structured and adaptive, based on participative action research. In addition, sensory evaluation to determine optimum measurable indicators of ripeness (soluble solids and hardness) based on consumer preferences was conducted to adjust time of harvesting. The research found that Tam Hoa plum production and marketing is a large, complex system that is interconnected with the marketing of green (immature) plums to China and other substitutable fruit such as lychees, longans and other plums. It is a highly opportunistic, low-input system the outputs of which depend on plum prices, the relative production capability of districts and local microclimates. The 40- to 45-day plum harvest season is highly variable regarding harvesting dates, harvest duration, plum quality and, consequently, market prices. It was established that there is sufficient profit margin for all chain participants to establish a sustainable niche value chain based on high-quality sweet plums if reliable and sufficient throughput can be achieved. It is recommended that future similar value chain projects pay particular attention to selecting large 'aggregators' and 'distributors' so as to achieve volume and stable market access.
Bonney, L.B., Nicetic, O., Collins, R., `Le Quoc, A., Đặng Thị, H., Hoang Thanh, T., Đào Thế, A., Nguyen, T.T.H. and Pham Van, H. (2016). Tam Hoa plums (Prunus salicina) in the maize-based system in the North-West Highlands of Vietnam. Acta Hortic. 1128, 103-110
temperate fruits, value chains, profitability, market interactions