In a programme to shift growing to more drought-tolerance crops, companies Syngenta and Vedan are implementing a "tropical beet development strategy" in Vietnam.
So far, about 100ha of beets have been planted in Dong Nai, Tay Ninh, Ha Tinh and Phan Thiet provinces. The three test-strains in the project include Posada, Doratea and HI 0064, which, after a month and a half, can endure temperatures of up to 45oC.
Beets can be harvested after five to six months, when they reach a weight of 2-3 kilos. Each hectare is expected to produce 80 tons of beets, which would render 11-16 tons of sugar where 1ha of sugarcane produces only 6-10 tons of sugar.
According to Syngenta, beets also require only five to six months? cultivation where sugarcane requires 12. According to the Vietnam Sugarcane Association, the 2004-05 crop year only produced 1mil tons of sugar, running short 15 thousand tons used for production and consumption.
Besides being a main source of sugar, beets can be used to produce ethanol, 1 tonne rendering 90 liters, or 7,200 liters per hectare.
If the test crop is successful, Vietnam will have 5,000-10,000ha under beet cultivation by 2006 and 10,000-20,000ha by 2007.
(Source: Vietnamnet 27/07/05)