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Vietnam becomes world's second largest exporter of lychees

 Vietnam has become the second largest exporter of lychees in the world, accounting for 19 percent of the global market share, according to the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS).

The world's largest exporter was Madagascar, accounting for 35 percent of the global exports despite a low area of plantations, Sisir Kumar Mitra, an ISHS representative, said at the sixth international conference on longan and lychee in Hanoi late last week.

It was followed by China with 18 percent, Thailand with 10 percent and South Africa with 9 percent.

According to consumers and companies on the global market, the quality of Vietnam's lychees was much better than similar products from India and China, he said.

The ISHS representative said in terms of output, China ranked first with 2 million tonnes per year, followed by India with 677,000 tonnes and Vietnam with 380,000 tonnes.

Despite having the second largest area of lychee plantations in the world after China, over 99 percent of India's lychees are consumed domestically.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, Director of the Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute, said Vietnam had a smaller output of lychees against China and India but because of the harvest season and difference in seed quality, Vietnam had seen strong growth in lychee exports.

Deputy Director of the Bac Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Viet Toan said Bac Giang province had over 28,500 hectares of lychees trees, including more than 14,000 hectares produced under VietGAP and GlobalGap standards. The province’s output was estimated to reach 150,000 tonnes of lychees this year.

Besides domestic markets, Luc Ngan lychees from Bac Giang are available in many countries, including China, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and the UK.

Vietnamese lychees have brand protection in China, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Singapore, Laos and Cambodia.

Vietnam has had 18 lychee growing regions receiving plantation region codes from the US Department of Agriculture while 36 other regions have reached export standards to ship to China this year.

Over the years, many scientific and technological advances have been applied in the production of longan and lychees. However, processed fruit account for only 10 percent of total consumption volume.

"Fresh products will always face strict requirements on quality, traceability and quarantine of import markets,” Hung said.

For instance, China had tightened quarantine, labelling and traceability regulations for Vietnamese fruit. Vietnam’s businesses must update and strictly implement those requirements to enter the neighbouring market, he said.

“Processed products do not face the same quarantine requirements, but businesses need more investment to increase quality and marketing activities,” Hung said.

Nguyen Van Phong, an expert from the Southern Fruit Institute, said the number of small-scale farmers growing rambutan, longan and lychees accounted for 70 percent of domestic production, but they had suffered huge losses due to poor management and traders.

The loss rate was up to 25-30 percent of output. This percentage decreased slightly to 11-35 percent for farmers that were part of co-operatives with large production scale.

Besides that, the lack of post-harvest technology remained an issue.