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Irradiation costs make lychee exports difficult

Update: May, 23/2015 - 06:50
The US and Australia also opened their markets to dragon fruit, rambutan and longan, but they must also undergo irradiation to eliminate pathogens and diseases. — File Photo

HA NOI (VNS)— The US and Australia will import Vietnamese lychees, but local businesses must bear the high cost of meeting these countries' irradiation requirements, officials said at a meeting earlier this month.

At the meeting on finding more markets for local products, Le Van Anh, head of the vegetable and fruit export-import joint stock company No. 1, said it would not be easy to make Vietnamese lychees compatible with US and Australian markets.

The US and Australia also opened their markets to dragon fruit, rambutan and longan, but they must also undergo irradiation to eliminate pathogens and diseases.

Participants at the event agreed to enhance the quality of Vietnamese agricultural products to meet requirements from high-end, competitive markets. So far seven firms are licensed to do so.

This year's lychee crop will be transported to southern Viet Nam for irradiation treatment until a northern centre for irradiation becomes operational at the end of this year.

Businesses will have to bear the cost of transporting products to the south. Then the irradiation itself will cost between 80 cents and $1 per kg.

Hoang Trung, deputy head of the Department of Plant Protection, said it would be difficult to expect Viet Nam to export a large number of lychees to these new markets this year.

Officials estimate that domestic consumption will account for about 60 per cent of the total production of lychees, and farmers and businesses will still have to rely heavily on China.

At the same time, Anh said authorities should work on clearance procedures to make sure lychees won't be caught up at the border.

But officials say they hope Viet Nam won't have to rely so heavily on Chinese buyers when it enters more high-end markets like the US and Australia.

The Australian Department of Agriculture approved the importation of fresh lychees from Viet Nam on May 12. The announcement came just in time for Viet Nam's 2015 lychee harvest, which will last until the middle of July. — VNS

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