Historic levels of saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta have caused coconuts in Ben Tre Province to shrink by half in size and farmers’ incomes by even more.
One afternoon in early August, Tran Trung Tac, owner of a dwarf coconut grove, opens 100 coconuts one by one for their water for making caramel sauce used to braise fish and meat.
The 70-year-old from Giong Tom District in Ben Tre, the country’s biggest producer of coconuts, has been forced to make caramel sauce because the coconuts now are far too small to sell to traders.
From being the size of a stretched human palm, they have now become just half that.
“Each dwarf coconut should have at least 250 millimeters of water but now there is just half or even one-fourth of that, and more than 200 coconuts make just one liter of caramel sauce these days,” Tac said.