HÀ NỘI — At the heart of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Việt Nam, nearly 400 traders and drivers involved in the lychee trade in Lục Ngạn District, Bắc Giang Province have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The northern province has a total of 28,100ha of lychee with an estimated output of 180,000 tonnes and is also the epicentre of Việt Nam's fourth wave of community COVID-19 cases, with more than 3,000 recorded since late April.
As the fruits are to be harvested this month, Nguyễn Thế Thi, chairman of the district People's Committee said: “We checked the list of drivers and businessmen involved in the trade and given them the priority for being vaccinated."
Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Lê Ánh Dương told local media trading was going well in the area, saying: “We vaccinated the truck drivers and traders so that they, with vaccine and virus-free certificates, can ship and sell the products nationwide without being stopped for pandemic procedures. “
Chinese trader Kou Zhike said: " I have traded Bắc Giang lychees for many years.This year, I was a bit worried due to the complex development of the pandemic. But when I came here I feel secure.
"Today, my Chinese friends and I were vaccinated which makes us feel more secure. I have begun buying lychees and plan to sell 50 trucks of the product this year."
After receiving the vaccine, Hường Thị Lan Anh, member of Lục Ngạn Driver Association, told Việt Nam News: “I am so happy with such protection. I must contact a number of people in such a busy season of harvesting the fruits. Without an injection, I would have been worried about potential infection. ”
Lê Tuấn Anh, head of Lục Ngạn District’s economy and infrastructure section, said: “Our goal is to protect all businessmen and drivers trading during the season,” adding: “We encourage those from other localities to register for vaccines.”
As logistics was key for trading the fruits, Trần Quang Tấn, director of Bắc Giang’s Department of Industry and Trade, mentioned transportation and circulation during the pandemic as a difficulty, and protecting the drivers would be key.
Chairman of the province Dương said: "We are also asking the Prime Minister to create a 'green channel', assigning the province to license the most convenient means of transporting lychee in domestic circulation."
Dương asked other localities and relevant places to create conditions to trade the fruits, especially for exports.
A driver is vaccinated against COVID-19 when going to Bắc Giang Province's Lục Ngạn District for lychee trading. Photo: vtc.vn
“Bắc Giang says no to 'rescuing' our products as the lychees of the province are of the best quality that could win the hearts of domestic and foreign consumers," Dương told Việt Nam News.
Dương said local lychees have reached 30 countries around the world, entering the most demanding markets of Japan, the US, and Europe.
“Trading local lychees as a rescue product will harm its reputation. We feel thankful for all the buyers of our products and we are now helping consume high-quality lychees," Dương added
By June 3, total lychee consumption reached about 31,366 tonnes, with domestic consumption at more than 20,430 tonnes or 65 per cent and exports to the US and Japan at 10,936 tonnes.
On the local market, the average selling price for lychees ranges from VNĐ13,000 to VNĐ33,000 per kg.
Together with the US and Japan, Dương calculated 1,000 tonnes was exported to China every day.
He said they prepared different scenarios for consuming the fruits, with the best-case scenario being a 50-50 split between the domestic and export markets. If the pandemic was not well controlled, the ratio could be 70:30 or 90:10.
The chairman said it was also working with trade centres, supermarkets and fruit agents to sell the province’s lychees, adding they have signed agreements for the distribution of lychees in retail chains like Central Retail, MM Mega Market Vietnam, Vinmart & Vinmart+, Aeon, Lotte and Sai Gon Coop.
Farmer Đỗ Thị Vân yesterday started the first livestream of her life to sell lychees from her garden via Senlive, the livestream platform of local e-commerce firm Sendo.
Viewers can order lychees grown to VietGAP standards at VNĐ16,000 (US$60 cent) per kilo.
Together with a number of lychee growers in Liên Việt Co-operative, Lý Sơn Commune in the district, Vân with the help of Sendo took a tour around her fruit garden to introduce the fruits to viewers nationwide.
Chairman of e-commerce site Sendo Đắc Việt Dũng told Việt Nam News: "During the complicated situation of COVID-19, we would like to help farmers approach a new way of selling their products. The skill of livestreaming will definitely help them in the future and create a more secure future for farming."
The E-commerce and Digital Economy Department, from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has worked with six major e-commerce platforms in Viet Nam including Sendo (FPT), Voso (Viettel Post), Tiki-BigC/GO, Shopee, Lazada and Postmart (VnPost) to organise the sale of Bac Giang lychees.
A 'Bắc Giang Province Lychee Festival' will be held tomorrow between Lazada and FoodMap, an e-commerce platform linking farmers with small- and medium-sized producers and consumers. The two said they were currently preparing the final logistic plan to simultaneously open for sale on Lazada from tomorrow. — VNS