Measures to promote exports of vegetables and fruits

Sunday, 2017-08-06 13:18:13
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In the first months of the year agro-forestry-fishery, vegetable and fruit exports recorded positive results.
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NDO – Vegetables and fruit continue to be a bright spot in the field of agricultural exports during the first seven months of 2017. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the total export value of agricultural, forestry and fishery products reached US$20.45 billion during the Jan-Jul period, in which fruits and vegetables alone accounted for US$2.03 billion, an increase of 49% over the same period in 2016.

Amongst the top ten Vietnamese agro-forestry and fishery exports during the last seven months, vegetables and fruits ranked fourth in export value and with this momentum in growth, by the end of 2017, they could surpass coffee to occupy third position, following seafood and furniture products, which now earn an export value of US$4.3 billion and US$4.2 billion, respectively.

Notably, after the first nine months of 2016, fruits and vegetables had earned US$1.68 billion in export value, surpassing rice and just behind coffee and cashew nuts. This year, after seven months, their export value exceeded cashew nuts and stands just slightly lower than coffee, with over US$2 billion.

Not only recording growth in value, on the market expansion level, Vietnamese vegetables and fruit have also created a great position in the international market as the items are present in many countries and territories across the globe; many of which require products of high quality, such as the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and European countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands.

It is noteworthy that Australia is now allowing the import of Vietnamese lychees and longans, whilst New Zealand has also opened its doors for mango and dragon fruit imports from Vietnam, in addition India imports dragon and star apple fruit, while Chile is opening its market for Vietnamese dragon fruit.

According to Nguyen Quoc Toan, Deputy Director of MARD’s Department of Agro Product Processing and Market Development, vegetables and fruit are becoming one of the top export items in the agro- forestry and fishery group.

He revealed that in the near future, the MARD will coordinate with a number of relevant ministries and agencies to organise a seminar on export promotion for vegetables and fruits in Lang Son province, in order to assist enterprises in boosting the export of this strong commodity. Shortly thereafter, the ministry will organise an export forum for Lang Son sugar-apples, with an aim to facilitate the export of this product to other markets, as with Vietnamese perilla and eel-flavoured tra fish which have won over Japanese consumers.

However, in certain important markets, fruit and vegetables have not produced similar results. Currently, Vietnam's agricultural exports to the European Union (EU) market are growing well, with a range of commodities such as cashew nuts, coffee, rice and fish, but as of yet fruit and vegetables have not penetrated into this market.

Giving further analysis, agricultural experts said that Vietnam's fruit and vegetable sector remains fragmented, ineffectively organised and still relatively young in the increasing international market trend of protectionism, with a range of technical barriers to agricultural products in general and vegetables in particular. These are the main reasons why the EU market, with strict requirements on food safety and traceability, still has a limited presence of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits.

Recently, efforts have been made to develop the fruit and vegetable markets, such as employing intertwined planting and harvesting seasons to avoid confrontation with Chinese and Thai fruit products, improving the product quality and hygiene and food safety by employing the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, and issuing planting area codes for quality products.

However, Vietnam is also facing a range of difficulties in linking businesses and producers to preserve fruit and vegetables for export. Therefore, it is necessary to build an effective three-sided partnership among businesses, farmers and the Government, at both regional and sector levels, with the common goal of building a hi-tech and competitive fruit and vegetable group in the international market.

In addition, measures are needed to diversify vegetable products, targeting strong product groups with competitive potential and large-scale export, such as the dragon fruit, star apple fruit and lychee, in order to expand and diversify the international export markets towards impressive and sustainable growth rates for vegetables and fruit.