08:09 | 07/05/2015 Trade
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued its final ruling and regulations allowing for the importation of litchi and longan fruit from Vietnam into the continental US – with the exception of the State of Florida.
The imports will be allowed with several preconditions regarding the origin and inspection of the fruits, the USDA said in a notice published late last year in the Federal Register.
Litchi fruit must be grown in orchards registered with and monitored by the national plant protection organization (NPPO) of Vietnam to ensure that the fruit are free of disease caused by Phytophthora litchii.
Litchi and longan fruit must be treated with irradiation for plant pests of the class Insecta, except pupae and adults of the order Lepidoptera, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the USDA as part of its final ruling.
The fruit must comply with labelling requirements issued by the USDA as part of its ruling and shipping cartons containing litchi or longan stamped – Not for importation into or distribution in the State of Florida.
The litchi and longan fruit may be imported in commercial consignments only. This means the fruit must – be practically free of leaves, twigs, and other plant parts, except for stems less than 1 inch long and attached to the fruit – according to the notice.
Non-commercial shipments are prohibited as they are more prone to infestations and often the commodity is ripe to overripe. In addition they could be of a variety with unknown susceptibility to pests, and is often grown with little or no pest control.
Each consignment of litchi fruit must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of Vietnam attesting that the conditions of this section have been met and that the consignment was inspected in Vietnam and found free of Phytophthora litchii.
Further, each consignment of longan fruit must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of Vietnam attesting that the conditions of this section have been met.
Any imported fruit must also be identified in a way allowing it to be traced back to its place of production.
This will reduce risk in the event of a pest outbreak and will in turn help ensure that timely remedial measures are taken to address the plant pest risk at the place of production and preclude the further export of infested fruit from that place of production.
Importers must also use measures such as pest-proof screens or tarpaulins to cover the lots of fruit during transit.
This safeguarding requirement will help prevent the introduction of quarantine pests to fruit while the fruit is in transit.
Fruit producers that break the above requirements will be subject to removal from the list of designated producers authorised to export to the US market until appropriate remedial action is taken.
Any producer found to have imported infested fruit will also be subject to removal from the allowed list of importers until it receives approval from Vietnamese regulators and the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to resume importing.
The place of production of the fruit and/or the packinghouse in which it was packed will also be subject to exclusion from the export program for the litchi and longan fruit to the continental US until APHIS and the NPPO of Vietnam jointly agree that the place of production and/or packinghouse has taken appropriate remedial measures to address plant pest risk.
The ruling also contains guidelines for the tolerance levels of all chemicals that are acceptable for use on litchi and longan fruit, which specifically prohibit the use of – Iprodione, Cypermethrin, Difenoconazole, Carbendazi and Chlorothalonil.
Tran Van Khoi, National Agricultural Extension Centre Deputy Director, said the ruling presents a tremendous opportunity for Vietnam domestic growers and producers as currently there are in excess of 60,000ha of litchi cultivation areas with output of 300,000 tonnes annually.
In the past, roughly 60% of the nation’s litchi has been domestically consumed with the remainder having been exported, principally to China. However, now with the authorization to export to the US market all that is about to change, Khoi said.
This is really going to open the floodgates for many more domestic growers and producers as litchi and longan fruit can command a much higher sales price in the US making it much more profitable and sustainable, he stressed.
We will have to wait and see how it all unfolds, Khoi said adding that since the final ruling and regulations were issued last September there hasn’t been a harvest and accordingly no exports.
At present, hundreds of growers in Luc Ngan district, Bac Giang province have been authorized to export to the US market and are strictly implementing VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards in their production process.
Vu Dinh Phuong, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in turn said six cultivation zones have also been given permission to export products to the US.
The province selected 234 growers who have met the requirements to cultivate litchi on more than 100ha and they have been provided extensive training on the US laws and regulations and procedures to comply with them.
In related news, the Australian Department of Agriculture has also recently agreed in principle to allow Vietnam fresh litchi to enter the market effective this June, which is pre-eminently good news for fruit growers Tu said.
Both the Australian and the US markets have very strict requirements that parallel each other and some growers are now preparing for a pilot project shipping the fruit to Australia.
In addition, shipping fresh litchi to the Australian market is more convenient than to the US market as the transport time is much shorter.
Nguyen Xuan Hong, Vietnam Plantation Protection Department Director said representatives from Australia and the US will come to Vietnam in May to clarify final conditions and requirements before first batches of fresh litchi fruits are shipped to either of the markets.Source VOV News