Protocol opens new opportunities to expand banana exports to China

November 04, 2022 - 08:42
Banana farms must have growing area code and follow Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards while packaging facilities are required to build an origin tracing system to ensure food safety standards before export to China.
Unripe bananas proccessed before export. There was huge opportunities for Việt Nam to increase the export of bananas to China, especially after the signing of the protocol on phytosanitary procedures for fresh bananas. — VNA/VNS Photo Vũ Sinh

HÀ NỘI — The Protocol recently signed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the General Administration of Customs China (GACC) would open significant opportunities for Vietnamese banana to expand exports to China, MARD Minister Lê Minh Hoan said.

Accordingly, the Protocol on phytosanitary procedures for Vietnamese fresh bananas exported to China was one of the 13 agreements inked by the two sides during Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng’s visit to China from October 30 to November 1.

Hoan said that the protocol would benefit Vietnamese banana growers and exporters by ensuring the official export of bananas at stable prices, facilitating customs clearance at border gates while improving the prestige of Vietnamese bananas.

Previously, banana growing had not been considered an industry, Hoan said, adding that with this protocol, the focus would be placed on promoting the banana growing industry to meet production and export standards and requirements of large markets and to switch to sustainable cultivation.

In the long term, the protocol would enhance the linkage between banana growers, packers and exporters and promote good agricultural practices to create products of high quality, friendly to the environment and human health, he stressed. Along with this, the market risks would be minimised.

Under the protocol, all banana farming areas and packaging facilities for export to China must be approved by both the MARD and the GACC. Banana farms must have growing area codes and follow Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards while packaging facilities are required to build an origin tracing system to ensure food safety standards before export to China.

Vietnamese fresh bananas will be exported via all Chinese border gates approved by the GACC.

The protocol consists of eight articles detailing specific contents that will be in force for five years. Accordingly, fresh bananas exported from Việt Nam to China must be unripe and should be harvested within 10 to 16 weeks after flowering.

Hoan said that it was important to provide instructions to farmers, packers and exporters to follow the requirements of the protocol to maintain the sustainable export of bananas to China.

Statistics of the general department of customs showed that Việt Nam’s export of banana totalled $237 million in the first eight months of this year, representing a rise of 28 per cent over the same period last year, mainly thanks to the increase in export to China.

Banana was the second largest fruit in terms of export value in the period, coming after dragon fruit with a value of nearly $463 million which saw a drop of nearly 40 per cent, however.

Đặng Phúc Nguyên, General Secretary of the Việt Nam Fruit Association, China had huge demand for bananas and there was largely untapped potential for Việt Nam to expand the export of this fruit.

Chinese spent around US$1 billion every year to import bananas, 50 per cent of which came from the Philippines, Cambodia 20 per cent and Việt Nam 16 per cent.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Việt Nam's production of bananas averaged about 2.1 million tons a year. Bananas can be harvested all year round.

In 2021, banana was the country's third-largest export fruit, after dragon fruits and mangoes.

China remained the largest vegetable and fruit importer of Việt Nam with an import value of $1.06 billion worth in 2021, or 43.3 percent of the Southeast Asian country's total vegetable and fruit export value.

Over 430,000 tonnes of Vietnamese bananas under quarantine were shipped to China in 2020. The volume increased to 574,000 tonnes in 2021 and 591,000 tonnes in the first nine months of this year.

As of 2019, Vietnam was home to 129,550ha of bananas.

Banana was one among 14 types of fruits in the fruit tree development project by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to 2025 with a vision to 2030.

Accordingly, banana plantation area would be increased to around 165,000-175,000 with a total yield of 2.6-3 million tonnes per year.

To date, 11 types of fresh fruits were allowed to enter China via official channels, including dragon fruit, watermelon, lychee, longan, banana, mango, jackfruit, rambutan, mangosteen, passion fruit and durian.

Among them, the two sides signed protocols on phytosanitary requirements four four kinds of fruits, including mangosteen, passion fruit, durian and banana. Negotiations were underway for sweet potatoe and fresh pomelo. — VNS