Vietnam overcomes Covid-19 barriers to ensure lychee exports

13:00 | 10/06/2020 Trade

(VEN) - Japanese experts were set to arrive in Vietnam on June 3 for an unusual visit to examine and supervise phytosanitary measures for lychees in order to allow the first shipment ever of the fruit to the northeastern Asian market following five years of negotiations, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). 

vietnam overcomes covid 19 barriers to ensure lychee exports

Waiving quarantine

This year, the northern midland province of Bac Giang has over 28,000ha of lychees with an estimated output of over 160,000 tonnes, an increase of 10,000 tonnes over the same period last year.

To prepare for the first batch of fresh lychee to be exported to Japan, Bac Giang authorities have coordinated with the MARD’s Plant Protection Department to select and propose 19 growing area codes for the Japanese side’s approval, with a total area of 103ha and an estimated output of 600 tonnes in the province’s Yen The and Luc Ngan districts.

The northern province of Hai Duong has 9,700ha with an estimated output of 45,000 tonnes. The province has developed 23 lychee and longan growing areas that meet the standards of Japanese, US, Australian and EU markets for plant quarantine and food safety.

Under regulations on Covid-19 prevention and control, foreigners arriving in Vietnam must be kept in quarantine for 14 days. However, since the lychee harvest time lasts for only one month, in June, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the anti-Covid-19 national steering committee, exempt Japanese experts from the mandatory quarantine.

The MARD noted it would coordinate with Bac Giang and Hai Duong authorities to safeguard the experts’ stay in the northern provinces.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) requested that its experts come to Vietnam to examine and supervise phytosanitary measures and treatment for each batch of lychees bound for Japan. Over the last four years, the MARD has worked with the MAFF to conduct testing and negotiations to pave the way for the export.

To the US and Australia

On May 25, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Thanh Ha District of Hai Duong Province organized lychee collection for export and cut the ribbon of the first lychee shipment to Singapore, the US and Australia in 2020, opening a favorable start of lychee harvest and sales. The Ameii Vietnam Joint Stock Company exported the first lychee container to Singapore and Fire Dragon Manufacturing Trading Service Co., Ltd. exported the first lychee shipments to Australia and the US.

Hoang Trung, Director of the Plant Protection Department, said lychee exports to China, Australia and the US were made possible by many years of preparation. Particularly, this year in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government implemented many measures to facilitate lychee exports. Australia has approved lychee irradiation in Hanoi, and with the application of technological improvements, fresh lychees can be preserved for up to 35 days, convenient for export by sea.

Chinese lychee traders to enter Vietnam

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has granted permission for up to 309 traders from China to enter and purchase lychees in Luc Ngan District of Bac Giang province, one of the country’s largest lychee growing areas.

La Van Nam, head of Luc Ngan District’s administration, said the Chinese side is closely coordinating with Vietnamese counterparts while striving to create favorable conditions for Chinese traders to enter the country and purchase lychees. The northern neighbor also requires traders to test negative for the coronavirus three days before they enter Vietnam.

Upon arrival in Vietnam, the Chinese traders will be immediately transferred to five hotels and guesthouses around Luc Ngan District where they are to be quarantined in order to undergo medical surveillance in line with regulations.

Following the completion of a 14-day quarantine period and testing for Covid-19, traders who test negative will be granted a virus free certificate and be permitted to conduct normal transactions with local growers. This year, Luc Ngan District is home to 15,290ha of land under lychee cultivation, with an estimated output of 85,000 tonnes, of which 36,000 tonnes have been reserved for export.

Domestic market

Economists are urging lychee growers to focus on the almost-100-million domestic market. The chair of Bac Giang Province People’s Committee Duong Van Thai said that if the province effectively exploits the domestic market, it would not have to worry about finding buyers abroad given the anticipated bumper crop that could fetch good prices this year.

Indeed, Bac Giang is continuing to increase domestic sales through supermarkets and retailers in major cities such as Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, and some southeastern provinces. The province has set a target of selling about 70 percent of its lychee output in the domestic market.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Domestic Market Department, and departments of industry and trade of Bac Giang and Hai Duong, the domestic market is a viable solution given the short lifetime of the fruit.

Collected by VEN