More attention must be paid to varieties to increase fruit exports

February 28, 2023 - 08:09
Plant varieties, which aim to stimulate the development and distribution of novel plant varieties, take on critical significance in this context.
Việt Nam exports red-flesh dragon fruits to Japan, the US, the EU and Australia. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese fruit and vegetable brands face the threat of being pilfered, along with requirements regarding the protection of plant varieties in export markets.

Plant varieties, which aim to stimulate the development and distribution of novel plant varieties, take on critical significance in this context.

Exporting Long Định 1 red-flesh dragon fruits poses challenges, as certain markets mandate that export firms possess the plant variety right of this fruit. Fortunately, the Hoàng Phát Fruit Co. Ltd. has secured the plant variety right for Long Định 1 red-flesh dragon fruit from the Southern Fruit Research Institute.

This firm lawfully registered the intellectual property right for this fruit in 2016, with a duration of 20 years.

In January 2023, several enterprises, such as Yasaka Fruit Processing Co. Ltd. and Green Sprout Import-Export Co. Ltd., could not export Long Định 1 red-flesh dragon fruits to Japan because of problems relating to dragon fruit variety right.

Đặng Phúc Nguyên, general secretary of the Việt Nam Fruit and Vegetables Association, said the company that has bought the plant variety right and the research work on Long Định 1 red-flesh dragon fruit is permitted to export this fruit. Therefore, other subjects using that variety for export violate intellectual property rights.

For fastidious markets such as Japan, the US, Australia, and the EU, Vietnamese exporters are often asked for documents on plant variety, Nguyên said.

This problem has caused negative consequences and losses for the export activities of many cooperatives, farmers and enterprises of red flesh dragon fruits.

On February 16, the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held a meeting in HCM City to find solutions for this issue. The meeting had participation from the Southern Fruit Research Institute and agriculture and rural development departments of provinces having large areas of dragon fruit cultivation, such as Bình Định, Bình Thuận, Long An and Tiền Giang, and representatives of several associations and businesses.

According to the delegates at the meeting, the State management agencies should soon remove the obstacles in granting variety right to avoid the abuse of monopoly ownership for a certain plant variety which will cause difficulties in farming and exporting fruits and vegetables.

To prevent Vietnamese vegetables and fruits exporting firms from violating intellectual property and protected trademarks at home and abroad, policies relating to the registration of plant variety rights should be more reasonable. That will create a competitive advantage for Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exports in foreign markets.

As well as LĐ1 red flesh dragon fruit, many experts have suggested that localities, businesses, facilities producing plant varieties, cooperatives and farmers need to focus on the plant variety right for Vietnamese durian varieties to avoid future troubles.

Especially, Việt Nam is now promoting the official export of Vietnamese durians to China, and those fruits have to compete directly with Thai durian, the biggest competitor in this market.

Nguyên was quoted by news site saying that China now has no requirements for the plant variety rights for Vietnamese durian fruits, but other markets often ask for this right. Therefore, it is necessary to register the right or protected varieties for Vietnamese durian in the long term.

So far, the National Office of Intellectual Property, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, has granted a certificate of trademark registration on Krong Pac Durian in Đắk Lắk Province and Ri 6 durian variety. It has issued the Geographical Indication registration certificate No. 00080 for Cái Mơn durian in Bến Tre Province.

Exports in 2023

Việt Nam expects to achieve an export value of US$4 billion from fruits and vegetables this year, given the rosy signs recorded recently, according to an official of the Việt Nam Fruit and Vegetables Association.

The association's secretary general Đặng Phúc Nguyên said with China’s complete re-opening of borders, businesses now have many export advantages and can cut down expenses. Goods will be exported in bigger volumes and enjoy faster customs clearance, ensuring better product quality.

China, the biggest market of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables, reopened its borders at the beginning of 2023, giving Việt Nam several opportunities to increase shipments there. Especially, fruit export holds many chances as this market always has a high demand for farm produce imports.

In addition, many protocols were signed between Việt Nam and China last year to boost the export of Việt Nam’s agricultural products via the official channel to China. They are opening the door wider for local fruits to enter this market.

In 2022, Việt Nam gained $3.4 billion from fruit and vegetable exports. Of which, durian shipments alone brought home over $420 million, mostly in the fourth quarter, after the fruit had gained the green light to enter China via the official channel.

Durian exports to China are likely to generate $1 billion in 2023, bringing the total fruit and vegetable export value to $4 billion, Nguyên said.

The EU has also removed four herbs of Việt Nam from the list of those controlled at a frequency of 50 per cent, namely parsley, coriander, basil, and mint.

It is expected to help boost the recovery of herb production and export to the EU, Nguyên said.

Besides that, the return of the International Exhibition & Conference for Horticultural and Floricultural Production and Professing Technology in Việt Nam, to be held in HCM City in early March, after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, will also open up numerous opportunities for the sector.

Nguyễn Đình Tùng, general director of Vina T&T Group, said that in January, his firm saw a year-on-year increase of 30 per cent in fruit export orders. The shipments of pomelo to the US and durian to China contributed much to this growth.

Given this, he noted that the company is confident in achieving the growth target of 30-40 per cent in 2023.

Sharing the belief in a bright export outlook, Ngô Tường Vy, general director of the Chánh Thu Fruit Export - Import Co. Ltd., said Vietnamese durian entered China much later than that from Thailand and Malaysia. Still, its quality is comparable to the rivals’. This is a basis for the business to improve quality and export volume.

The Chánh Thu company can double its durian sales to China in 2023, she said. — VNS