A Precious Gift from Nature

A 30-year-old tree of Dien Pomelo in Phu Dien ward, Bac Tu Liem district, Hanoi/ Photo: Thoi Nguyen

Dien Pomelo, also known as pomelo planted in Dien village of Bac Tu Liem district in western Hanoi, is a precious specialty bestowed upon Hanoi capital and the country as a whole by nature.

According to the elder residents of Hanoi, Dien Pomelo used to be a special offering to the King. In the past, it was grown sparsely and only wealthy families had the chance to enjoy this rare fruit. Today, alongside the Canh orange, known as “Cam Canh”, and pomelo from Dien village, called “Buoi Dien”, these two specialties of Hanoi are renowned among fruit connoisseurs nationwide. Traditionally, Dien pomelo is a highly valued gift for the Tet holiday.

Dien Pomelo possesses a fresh and delicious taste that cannot be compared to any other pomelo or grapefruit. Unlike other varieties grown throughout Vietnam, this fruit not only has a refreshing sweet taste, but also a long-lasting fragrance.

In recent years, the local authority of Phuc Dien ward in Bac Tu Liem district has recognized the economic value of Dien pomelo. Unlike other pomelo varieties, Dien pomelo can be stored for up to four months without any preservatives. It is recommended to let the fruit’s skin dry in order to fully enjoy its taste.

Thanks to its unique characteristics, the people of Phu Dien ward have been encouraged to cultivate this type of pomelo on a large scale. In modern times, scientific advances have also been applied to improve the yield and quality of the crop.

The Golden Good Crop

Good crop but low price: This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the price falls slightly, at around VND40,000 to VND50,000 (US$1.7) per fruit.

We visited Phuc Dien one day in late December, when the locals were busy harvesting the fruits. The pomelo farm of Mrs. Nguyen Thi Dao’s family is adorned with thousands of pomelos burdened by golden ripe fruits. Mrs. Dao’s family owns one of the largest pomelo gardens in the ward, cultivating Dien pomelo on an area of around 10,000 sqm. Ensuring hygiene, safety, and improving the fruit’s quality are their top priorities.

“Every year, after harvesting the fruits, I usually fertilize our plants with organic fertilizer made from soybeans and corn, using a quantity of around five kilograms per tree. Additionally, we also use high-quality imported fertilizers to help the trees bear more fruits,” said Mrs. Nguyen Thi Dao, a grower of Dien pomelo in Phuc Dien ward, Bac Tu Liem district, Hanoi.

According to Dao, her family earns around VND300 million (or US$13,000) per year from Dien pomelo cultivation, harvesting between 6,000 and 7,000 fruits annually. The price for a fruit of “Buoi Dien” usually ranges from VND50,000 to VND60,000 (US$2). This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the price has slightly fallen to around VND40,000 to VND50,000 (US$1.7) per fruit.

According to the local authority, Phuc Dien has one of the three largest areas for pomelo cultivation in Bac Tu Liem district, Hanoi. In Phuc Dien ward alone, out of a total of 45 hectares of farmland, approximately 35 hectares are dedicated to growing Dien pomelo.

When the weather turns cold, it’s the best time for Dien Pomelo harvesting season. The heavy pomelo grapes with shiny yellow color are also an ideal theme for photos.

Every November and December, the pomelo orchards in Phuc Dien ward become busy with fruit harvesters and trucks lining up to be loaded with pomelo. This is also the time when Hanoians prepare for the upcoming traditional Tet festival, flocking here to buy the fruit as gifts for worshiping ancestors and for family consumption during the most special days of the year.

“We have launched a movement among local people, utilizing idle areas to grow pomelo. In Phuc Dien ward, the oldest pomelo tree could be over 30 years old, while the youngest plant is around 15 to 20 years old. On average, we plant 25 trees per 1000 sqm. Last year, we harvested around 2500 pomelo fruits. Of this amount, we kept 500 for family consumption. On average, we earn around VND3 billion or US$129,000 per hectare per year,” said Mr. Nguyen Van Hau, Secretary of Quarter 1 in Phuc Dien ward, Bac Tu Liem district, Hanoi.

The people of Phuc Dien ward take great pride in owning such a precious gift from nature, firmly believing that “Pomelo from Dien has been grown elsewhere in the north of Vietnam, but only in Phuc Dien ward can the fruit have a unique and distinctive fragrance and deliciousness.”