Bustling atmosphere in ripe lychee season

Bustling atmosphere in ripe lychee season

In the early days of June, people in the two districts of Thanh Ha (Hai Duong province) and Luc Ngan (Bac Giang province) harvest lychees in a husty and eager manner. The 2020 crop is looking to to be a fruitful season for lychee farmers, with production levels and selling prices both increasing.

Tens of thousands of tonnes of lychee have been assigned for export to fastidious markets such as the European Union (EU), the United States (US), the Republic of Korea (RoK), Australia and Singapore. This is considered a brilliant opportunity for Vietnamese lychee to gradually conquer new markets.

Bustling atmosphere in ripe lychee season
People in Chu township, Luc Ngan district, Bac Giang province eagerly harvesting early maturing lychee from the 2020 crop.

Dual wins

These days, lychee growers in Hai Duong are in a happy mood with a bumper crop at good prices. All the lychee sold out immediately after being harvested, without suffering from a margin squeeze by traders. Le Van Dai, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Vinh Lap commune (Thanh Ha district), said that the locality currently has 85 hectares of lychee cultivation meeting VietGAP standards, mainly early maturing lychee. This year, the commune is hoping to pick over 800 tonnes of lychee with the selling price for early ripened lychees ranging between VND40,000-42,000, with estimated VND35 billion (US$1.52 million) in revenue. Given the fact that income from lychee growing is about 10 times higher than from rice cultivation, Vinh Lap commune is working on a project seeking the district’s permission to convert more than 50 hectares of its low-lying land into lychee farming.

According to Nguyen Thi Lan, head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Thanh Ha district, there are currently 3,500 hectares of lychee farming in the locality, mostly early maturing lychee varieties. So far, local residents have basically completed the harvest of the early crops and moved on to harvest the main season’s produce.

It is good news that early-crop lychees are being sold at a high price, even up to VND60,000-65,000 per kilogram. With an output of about 30,000 tonnes of lychee fruits, Thanh Ha farmers could rake in more than VND800 billion (US$34.7 million). As shown by statistics, lychee fruit production in Hai Duong is expected to reach 45,000 tonnes this year, 20,000 tonnes more than the 2019 crop. In all the lychee growing areas across the province, farmers have received training and practiced production following VietGAP and GlobalGAP processes to meet food safety and hygiene requirements. In particular, the area of VietGAP-certified lychee cultivation is over 500 hectares with an estimated production of nearly 4,000 tonnes.

In 2020, more than 28,000 hectares of lychee cultivation in Bac Giang is expected to produce a yield of more than 160,000 tonnes, an increase of 10,000 tonnes compared to 2019. In the context of the pandemic, Bac Giang has strived to diversify its target market, both promoting the domestic market and focusing on accelerating exports to foreign markets. Bac Giang lychee has now developed a stable brand which has been granted protection in ten countries. The local area of ​​lychee farming under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards makes up 15,000 hectares, representing more than 50% of the total production area, and this is heading towards 100% in the future.

Thus far, 50% of lychee production has been domestically consumed, while another 50% is for export, mainly to China and some to markets such as the US, the EU, the RoK and Australia. In order to ensure stable consumption, Bac Giang has directed localities and functional agencies to focus on connecting with supermarkets and wholesale markets in localities nationwide, thus creating favorable conditions for the consumption of local lychee. “This year, we have paid special attention to trade promotion activities. The prompt development of plans has contributed to facilitating lychee consumption, with an average price of VND25,000 per kilogramme,” said La Van Nam, chairman of the Luc Ngan district People’s Committee.

In 2020, more than 28,000 hectares of lychee cultivation in Bac Giang is expected to produce a yield of more than 160,000 tonnes.

Penetrating into new markets

Luong Thi Kiem, head of Hai Duong’s Plant Protection Sub-department, stated that the first batch of Thanh Ha lychee exported to Singapore by sea on May 26 had arrived to port on June 5. According to information from the receiving side, after docking the fruit still retained good quality and an eligible condition for consumption, pointing to a sustainable ability to export lychee fruits in large volume to foreign markets by sea. In addition, batches of lychee fruit exported to the US and Australian markets are soon due to arrive. In the coming days, Vietnamese export companies will negotiate with partners to sign contracts for the export of lychees to Japan.

Hai Duong currently has 220 hectares of lychees grown under international standards and GlobalGAP standards, allowing expors to fastidious markets such as the EU, the US, Australia and Japan, with an estimated output of 1,500 tonnes. As many as 19 lychee farming areas, covering 170 hectares, have obtained cultivation area codes for export to the US, Australia and the EU, with an estimated yield of 1,300 tonnes. An additional 64 lychee growing areas and seven longan farming areas with an area of nearly 10,000 hectares have registered to be cultivation areas eligible to export to China. It is worth mentioning that there are no banned substances in lychee samples collected from the cultivation areas for export, while the residue of permitted plant protective drugs are below the threshold levels.

On June 6, Bac Giang organised a video conference to promote lychee consumption between cities and provinces nationwide and locations in the Chinese provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan. At the same time, the province inaugurated the “Bac Giang Lychee” electronic trading floor. Vice Chairman of the Bac Giang provincial People’s Committee Lai Thanh Son said that the province earns VND4-4.5 trillion (US$173.6-195.3 million) from lychee production annually, accounting for 25-28% of the total value of its cultivation sector. With the careful preparation of the locality and the support of the concerned ministries and sectors, Bac Giang is looking towards a positive scenario of exporting about 80,000 tonnes of lychees this year, equivalent to 50% of the total output of the 2020 crop.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, lychee exports to Japan have not yet achieved the goals set for the year although Japan has agreed to import fresh Vietnamese lychees from 2020. Bac Giang has advocated introducing high-quality products into tourism service chains and the retail distribution channels of big supermarkets in the country and across ASEAN nations. In addition, the province continues to recommend lychee growing to households and processing establishments stand ready to meet the conditions required by export markets.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said that Bac Giang lychee is now not only a local specialty but it has also conquered many fastidious markets. To ensure lychee trees bring greater efficiency, localities should continue instructing farmers concerning cultivation and harvesting techniques so that lychee fruit is of high quality and meets the technical requirements of domestic and export markets. At the same time, domestic and foreign investors need to implement farm produce and food processing projects to increase the products’ added value and raise incomes for farmers./.NDO

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