Vietnam expects to reach a total export value of 2 billion USD for fruits and vegetables this year, an official of the Vietnam Vegetable and Fruit Association (Vinafruit) has said.

Huynh Quang Dau, Vinafruit Deputy Chairman, said Vietnam's export value of fruits and vegetables had seen strong growth in recent times, reported

The export value reached 1.47 billion USD in 2014, much higher than the 500 million USD earned in 2013, due to the expansion of the export market.

In the first quarter of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said the nation had gained a year-on-year increase of 13 percent in the export value of fruits and vegetables, amounting to 274 million USD.

The Southern Fruit and Plant Research Institute said the strong growth was due to high demand for fruit in many countries, including the US, which has opened its market to some new kinds of fruit from Vietnam, such as longans, litchis, rambutan and dragon fruit.

Additionally, many other markets saw double or triple the demand against the same period last year, including the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, it said.

The export value of fruits and vegetables would continue increasing sharply this year, Dau said, because many more kinds of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables would start approaching strict export markets such as the US, Australia, the EU and Japan.

New Zealand has also permitted imports of Vietnamese dragon fruit and has considered opening its market to Vietnamese mangos in the coming period, he said.

The Republic of Korea has continued importing milk fruit and plans to import other kinds of fruit as well, including bananas, chillis and jack fruit, from Vietnam after treating it with irradiation technology.

Many other markets such as the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada have had high demand for the Vietnamese buoi hong da xanh (green-peel and pink-flesh) grapefruit, he said.

This year, Vietnam has a great chance of exporting more fruit to the US after the US Department of Agriculture last year issued import licences for fresh Vietnamese litchis and longans, Dau said.

In March 2015, Vietnam's Plant Protection Department provided the first 10 codes for regions growing litchis in the northern region of Vietnam that reach the conditions for exporting to the US.

The north of Vietnam does not have a US-certified factory for packing fruit or the proper irradiation machines, so the fresh litchis must be transported to the south of the country for packing and irradiation activities before the fruit can be exported to the US.

Litchis have the potential for high export value if local enterprises market their product well, improve the quality of the fruit after harvest, handle packaging and preservation, and build a brand for the fruit, he said.

The association has proposed that the government and the MARD should plan to create regions especially for fruits and vegetables that meet VietGAP standards for export and should manage the use of plant protection drugs and chemicals.

This would ensure the production of clean fruits and vegetables reaching the food hygiene and safety standards of the world market, he said.-VNA