Awakening domestic consumption of lychees

The consumption of lychees this year has continuously faced difficulties as the traditional export market of lychees still tightens control on imports to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic while new export markets have announced import postponement.
The woman taking care of a litchi orchard in Bac Giang province
The woman taking care of a litchi orchard in Bac Giang province

From May 1, Guangxi Province has resumed the normal time for customs clearance at the specialized clearance line at the Tan Thanh – Po Chai border gate. However, according to Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), currently, the customs clearance capacity at border gates in the North, especially the loading and unloading capacity, has not returned to normalcy yet as measures to prevent the disease are still applied strictly. This will affect the consumption and export of many types of fruits and agricultural products of Vietnam, including lychees.

Having predicted this great challenge, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has recently formed a delegation to inspect the actual situation and discuss with the authorities of Bac Giang Province on the consumption scenarios of lychees for farmers. Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong led the delegation to visit lychee orchards grown under the GlobalGap standards to export to the Japanese market in Tan Yen District. Lychee trees are in the fruiting stage with a high fruit-set ratio, the quality of lychees is quite good.

According to Mr. Duong Van Thai, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Bac Giang Province, the total area of lychee trees in the province is 28,100 hectares this year with an estimated output of around 160,000 tons. Farmers will start harvesting lychees from May 20 and the harvest time is expected to last until July. Thus, the production of lychees this year will be as high as last year. Bac Giang Province is already granted 19 lychee growing area codes to export to Japan with an area of 103 hectares in Hong Giang, Nam Duong, Tan Son, Quy Son, Giap Son, and Ho Dap communes in Luc Ngan District and Phuc Hoa Commune of Tan Yen District. If successfully, 2020 will be the first year that Vietnamese fresh lychees are exported to Japan – a strict market – paving the way for the fruit to conquer other choosy but potential markets. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that they cannot send experts from its Plant Protection Station to Vietnam to inspect and recognize the disinfection treatment system of fresh lychees of Vietnam. Therefore, the first export of Vietnamese fresh lychees to Japan will not be carried out this year.

Agricultural minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that it is unavoidable for the market to be disrupted by the pandemic. The MARD has actively discussed with provinces and cities on the consumption of agricultural products, especially Bac Giang and Hai Duong provinces where lychee production accounts for up to 50 percent to the country’s total lychee production, to make the most positive and proactive solutions, aiming to help lychee farmers to enjoy a bumper crop with high prices.

According to the Chairman of the People’s Committee of Bac Giang Province, in case of the worst scenario that lychees will not be able to export, the province will focus on exploiting the domestic market because this is a potential market with a population of around 100 million people. If the domestic market is boosted well, there is no need to worry about consumption.

As the customs clearance at border gates will remain sluggish, the MoIT suggested provinces and enterprises considering carefully and adjusting the progress of transporting goods to Northern border gates appropriately; diversifying forms of transportation and freight forwarding and maximizing the use of railways to lessen the pressure on road border gates, to prevent goods congestion like previous months.