Việt Nam focuses on fruit exports for higher value

September 24, 2019 - 09:15

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) this year added fruit to its list of key export agricultural products.


Traders sell their mango in Đồng Tháp Province, in Mekong Delta region. — Photo 

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese agriculture officials made fruit a key export product as it can bring eight or nine times more in value compare to rice production.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) this year added fruit to its list of key export agricultural products along with seafood, rice, cashew nut, timber, furniture, coffee, rubber and pepper.

"Demand for fruits and vegetables on the world market increases by 3.6 per cent every year,” a representative of MARD said.

“There is a big chance for Việt Nam to develop its fruit products to the world market,” they added.

Currently, Vietnamese fruit is exported to 60 countries. Fruit export turnover hit US$3.5 billion in 2017 and is projected at $3.6 billion this year. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world's market for vegetable and fruit has a growth rate of nearly 2.9 per cent in 2016-21.

Việt Nam’s vegetables and fruits export value currently accounts for about 1 per cent of the global vegetables and fruits revenue ($270 billion), which shows the great potential of this sector that still has more room to develop.

"Spanning as much as 40 per cent of the rice planting area, vegetable and fruit growing areas bring export revenue much bigger than that of rice in Việt Nam," said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường earlier this year.

In the first seven months of 2019, the country exported more than four million tonnes of rice worth $1.73 billion, 14.3 per cent lower in value from the same period last year.

Cường told local media the world's average global trade in rice is only about $35-36 billion per year while the value of fruits was $240 billion. With an average growth rate of 2-3 per cent in the next five years, fruit production could create profit eight or nine times higher than rice, he added.

Focus on fruit hub in the south

According to Department of Crop Production, the south of Việt Nam has the biggest fruit planting area of 600,000ha and total productivity 6.6 million tonnes, accounting for 67 per cent of production nationwide.

Common fruits in the region are mango, banana, dragon fruit, durian, orange, grapefruit, longan, pineapple, rambutan, jackfruit, avocado and passion fruit.

Along with potential, MARD also sees challenge in cultivation. Currently, the region's fruit farming is small scale, with a lack of processed fruit and low adoption of international plantation standards.

Đặng Phúc Nguyên, general secretary of Việt Nam Fruit and Vegetable Association, said as the fruit production hub of the south, fruit farmers in the Mekong Delta work separately, making it difficult for them to use machinery to boost production.

To change this, Nguyên said MARD development plans aim to transform 500,000ha of rice growing land to either fruit growing or aquaculture production.

The ministry also pointed out only 10 per cent of production area there is used for high quality products that meet Global Good Agriculture Practices (GlobalGAP) certificates, the international standard for exports to the demanding markets of Europe, the US, Japan and South Korea.

To improve the situation, MARD has urged local departments to encourage farmers to apply international standards to their plantations.

Nguyễn Quốc Toản, director of the Agricultural Products Processing and Development Department, said that product branding was also an important issue.

Currently, only two products have national brands, rice and tea, so Vietnamese fruit products also need to get national brands soon.

To achieve this, the fruit and vegetable industry should pay attention to requirements of export markets, traceability, labels and packaging. In particular, it should pay attention to processed goods and increase enterprises’ processing ability, as exporting fresh fruits face technical barriers while processed fruit products do not. Besides, processed products have higher added value. — VNS