Vietnam ’s litchi has been accepted to enter Japan , US and Australia , bringing a great news for both farmers and exporters.

The country successfully exported the first consignment of nearly 20 tonnes of litchi to Japan this year, opening up a new hope to increase its litchi exports in 2015, said the Vietnam Economic News reported.
The US Department of Agriculture recently granted a licence for Vietnam to export longan and litchi to the US from October 6, 2014. Vietnam expects it can export to the US about 600 tonnes of litchi and 1,200 tonnes of longan each year.

At a regional export promotion conference recently held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Hanoi , Nguyen Khanh, Director of the Bac Giang Trade Promotion Centre, said that the province recently received a letter from the Australian Embassy in Vietnam informing that Vietnam had been allowed to export litchi to Australia from 2015.

These facts show that there are opportunities for Vietnam to diversify the export markets for litchi to prevent its dependence on one traditional market. However, it will not be easy for Vietnamese litchi to enter these markets as they have very strict requirements in terms of quality.

Nguyen Khanh said that to prepare for exporting litchi to these markets, Bac Giang province was making a shift from growing litchi according to VietGap standards to applying GlobalGap standards on 100ha of litchi plantations. The province expects that about 500-800 tonnes of litchi will be produced according to GlobalGap standards next year.

“In recent times, Bac Giang province coordinated with Hai Duong province to provide farmers with training on litchi growing techniques to ensure their quality and hygiene. Thanks to these efforts and the post-harvest technology, Vietnamese litchi is expected to meet the strict requirements set by importing countries,” Nguyen Khanh was quoted as saying.

Along with ensuring hygiene and safety, choosing a suitable post-processing preservation technology is also an important factor directly affecting litchi exports, because countries which recently opened their markets to Vietnamese litchi are located rather far from Vietnam , requiring greater time for transportation.

In 2014, the Institute for Regional Research and Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology has applied the CAS technology to preserve litchi harvested from plantations in Bac Giang province for pilot export to Japan . The ABI Group ( Japan ) is the sole inventor of this technology. CAS is an advanced technology helping optimize the preservation of seafood, agricultural products and food. This technology allows maintaining the freshness, tissue/cell structure and original colour of products even many years after being defrosted, depending on each kind of product.

Thanks to the CAS technology, nearly 20 tonnes of Vietnamese litchi have been successfully exported to Japan at prices ranging from JPY300-650 (60,000-130,000 VND) per 10 litchis. Examination results announced by the ABI Group showed that Vietnamese litchi preserved with the CAS technology basically met Japan ’s quality requirements for this kind of fruit. Japanese experts recognised the higher quality of Vietnamese litchi compared with Chinese and Malaysian alternatives. This technology allows litchi to be well preserved for 11 months, promising Vietnam opportunities to export litchi to difficult-to-please markets such as West European countries.

The CAS technology has big advantages but requires costly investment. Nguyen Khanh said that Bac Giang province was considering the application of a preservation technology from Israel . Not as costly as CAS, this technology requires investment of about 10 billion VND to preserve 1-10 tonnes of litchis for about two months.

Litchi has been selected to be one of the seven products of the northern region, together with tea, textiles and garments, footwear, bamboo and rattan products, logistics and tourism products, to receive support from the Decentralized Trade Support Services for Strengthening the International Competitiveness of Vietnamese Small and Medium-sized Enterprises programme.

This programme will be implemented from now until 2017. Under the programme, litchi businesses will be assisted to promote sustainable production in accordance with international standards; the management over processing facilities will be tightened to ensure the quality of export products; trade promotion activities will be organized; and the links between businesses and farmers will be promoted.

Hopefully, Vietnamese litchi businesses will make the most of these opportunities to promote exports to many countries.-VNA