The deadly sour cherry epidemic that swept through Vietnam last year has spread further afield into the countryside, hindering farmers from selling fruit and crushing grapes. Villagers have lost one month in their annual fruit and cucumber harvest.
The case has made an impact in neighboring Cambodia, which in the past three years has seen an increase in small scale farming. Cambodia has some of the lowest strawberry prices in the world, with farmers who buy directly from the Southeast Asian nation increasingly reluctant to sell their product there.
“If they see that other people are getting money because they harvested berries and they’re the first people to do it in the country, they’re going to feel like there’s something missing when they do the same thing,” Ernie Newman, director of Cambodia’s National Agency for the Development of Natural Resources and the Environment, told The Cambodia Daily.
Officials in Vietnam say the sour cherry epidemic has affected 70,000 hectares (165,000 acres), or a third of the country’s strawberry area. The total national fruit production is expected to have dropped by 20-40 percent, and Vietnam has lost an estimated $30 million in fruit and vegetable exports in 2018, the government says.
Authorities say this fall harvest will be the worst for 20 years, because farmers fear new outbreaks could hit small plots they planted and lack the resources to prevent another outbreak.
An official survey is still underway and is expected to be completed in October.
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