Photo: Duc Anh
First ton of northern province's litchi exported to US.
One ton of litchi from Bac Giang has been exported to the US by the Anh Duong Sao Trading Service Company.
Demand for litchi in the US will be higher this year because the litchi season in Mexico will be two weeks later than in Vietnam, the Director of Anh Duong Sao said. Although competition in the US’s litchi market is fierce, the company still decided to export more to the market than last year, totaling 20 tons.
According to a report from the Bac Giang Provincial People’s Committee, the total litchi area in the province is 30,000 ha this year, down by 1,000 ha compared to last year. The total harvest is expected to be 130,000 tons, down 65,000 tons under the province's restructuring plan.
Early ripening litchi is estimated at 23,000 tons, accounting for 17.7 per cent of the province’s total. The remaining 107,000 tons will ripened litchi. Prime growing areas in the province are Luc Ngan, Luc Nam, Tan Yen, and Lang Giang districts.
Despite less growing area the amount of high-quality litchi grown under VietGap and GlobalGap standards has increased, according to the people's committee. The province expects domestic consumption to be 78,000 tons, or 60 per cent of its total, with exports accounting for the remaining 52,000 tons, or 40 per cent.
The “high season” for Bac Giang’s litchi will be in about ten days, or around the 18th of the month, but local exporters are a little concerned. There are difficulties with the Hanoi Irradiation Center (HIC), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, which opened this year. After completing its tasks it doesn’t automatically arrange for security inspections, with enterprises having to contact State agencies themselves. If such inspections are not conducted immediately after irradiation, the quality of the litchi cannot be guaranteed.
It normally takes months for enterprises to arrange security inspections by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV). Though CAAV leaders have said that procedures will be conducted quickly, the litchi must be processed at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport.
The Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development is concerned that if inspections take too long then exporters will be at a disadvantage given how short the season is.
CAAV is attempting to assist enterprises to gain quick inspections at Noi Bai and is cooperating with HIC to conduct security inspection services at the center. CAAV said a solution will be identified prior to June 10.
Transport costs for one kilogram of litchi onboard Vietnam Airlines are from 30 to 40 cents higher than for other goods, cutting into Vietnamese litchi’s competitiveness against those from Thailand and China. Transport and irradiation is estimated to represent two-thirds of the litchi sales price, a representative from Hoang Ha International Logistics said.
Vietnam Airlines explained that the transport costs are contained within its general price schedule but, to support Vietnamese litchi, it will cut transport costs by 30 per cent on direct flights to Australia.
Under sponsorship from the Swiss Government and guidance from Vietrade at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Bac Giang is researching new technology to keep litchi fresh, using sulfur steam. The technology meets EU standards and, if applied successfully, will allow for litchi to be transported by ship instead of air, cutting transport costs.