With favourable natural conditions and a temperate climate, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong is well suited to become a leading supplier of farm produce for Japan, one of the most promising market in Asia, as heard at a workshop in Da Lat resort city on March 23.

Jointly organised by the provincial People’s Committee, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the workshop brought together nearly 120 local and Japanese businesses.

According to the assessment of the Japanese consultancy company Dream Incubator, the project supporting Lam Dong to develop agriculture is providing huge opportunities for the province to become a leading exporter of vegetable and flowers for Japan .

Japan is currently the biggest Asian importer of processed vegetables and fresh flowers, comprising 70 percent and 60 percent of the region’s market, respectively.

While Japan’s import demand is increasing, local production is narrowing, the company said.

In recent years, many Japanese investors have shown interest in Lam Dong high-tech agriculture such as growing vegetables and strawberries and transporting farm produce.

Moreover, Japan’s major exporters like China, Malaysia, and Colombia are facing difficulties in food safety, production reduction, and geographic distance.

This constitutes a good opportunity for Vietnam and Lam Dong in particular to boost exports to Japan and become the stable market supplier, experts said.

Japanese businesses, however, pointed to bottlenecks such as high production costs, unstable and small-scale supply sources, and low product quality.

Additionally, the province has yet to develop a market mechanism for the flower industry.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Doan Van Viet also admitted shortcomings in the field, such as small-scale production, lack of capital sources, and limited connection in agriculture businesses.

Japanese firms advised local firms to modernize the vegetable supply chain and flower production and distribution, increase production scale to meet Japanese export quality standards, build a post-harvest agricultural industry, and develop agricultural tourism.

Local authorities called on Japanese enterprises to study and invest in building agricultural industrial parks and post-harvest fruit, vegetable and flower centres, as well as assisting the province in technology and finance.

Lam Dong has about 316,000 hectares for cultivation, including nearly 40,000 hectares for high-tech agricultural production. The production value of agro-forestry-fisheries accounts for over 44 percent of the local economy. It also has specialised areas for growing vegetables and flowers.

In 2014, the province exported 14,653 tonnes of fruits and vegetables and over 211 million fresh flowers.-VNA