A farmer harvests lychee in Lục Ngạn District, northern province of Bắc Giang. VNA/VNS Photo
BẮC GIANG - An online portal has been launched to help farmers in pandemic-hit Bắc Giang Province sell their lychees.
“Thank God, it’s so effective,” vice director of Bắc Giang Enterprise Consulting and Assistance Centre (BECA) Dương Thanh Sơn said about the portal launched by the centre. Bắc Giang has been hit hardest by COVID-19 during its fourth wave in Việt Nam, causing difficulties for local farmers.
The portal www.hotrotieuthuvaithieubacgiang.com was launched about three weeks ago and a Facebook page hotrotieuthuvaithieubacgiang was created just a few days later when Bắc Giang started entering the lychee harvest season.
Consumers can register to buy a large volume of lychees – a minimum of a tonne – after inputting basic information like name, e-mail, phone number, address and amount of lychee.
Sơn, who specialises in information technology and communication, said that the portal looked simple but behind it were automatic customer management and customer care programmes that help with online sales.
The portal and the Facebook page have reached hundreds of thousands of users, Sơn said, adding that he has received positive feedback on social media.
“We connect Bắc Giang lychee farmers and co-operatives with buyers. We pledge that our consumers can buy high-quality lychee at very good prices,” Sơn said.
“If we had thought of the portal earlier and prepared for it about three months ago when lychee was still green, we could have reached more consumers,” Sơn said.
He said the idea for the portal came up when Bắc Giang farmers entered lychee harvest time but the province was struggling to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the province has about 28,100 ha of lychee with an estimated production of 180,000 tonnes. The COVID-19 outbreaks caused difficulties for harvesting, transporting, selling and exporting the fruit.
Together with the Government, provincial authorities, organisations and individuals, BECA helped farmers in lychee consumption. All BECA staff, mostly IT and media personnel, have helped with online sales.
On the first day of launching the portal, Sơn said they received hundreds of messages asking to buy lychees. Orders for small amounts, for example a few kilos, were transferred to local retailers while BECA would concentrate on large orders, especially those from enterprises, which as Sơn said, had financial ability and willingness to buy large amounts.
Within the first week, BECA helped to sell nearly 140 tonnes of lychee.
“We have a goal to help farmers sell 1,000-1,800 tonnes of lychee. It’s a big goal, so we need help from associations, enterprises and businesses,” Sơn said.
Sơn is also looking for other potential consumers - community groups. He said, for example, the Dương community – sharing the family name Dương in Việt Nam – was very large. Sơn received an order of 17 tonnes from the Dương community in HCM City, and they were set to order two more containers. The Dương communities in Bình Thuận and Bình Dương ordered two containers each.
Đinh Thị Ánh from the northern province of Nam Định said that on seeing news about COVID-19 hotspots in Bắc Giang Province, she wanted to do something for people there, especially farmers who faced difficulties in selling lychee.
She said that she was very happy to find a reliable source that supplies Bắc Giang lychees and she asked her friends to add their orders on hotrotieuthuvaithieubacgiang.com and then sell the fruit to people in Nam Định City.
All the funds raised would be donated to the national COVID-19 vaccine fund, Ánh said.
Bắc Giang lychee is sold in the northern city of Nam Định. Photo courtesy of Đinh Thị Ánh
Ánh and dozens of volunteers on June 7 received the first shipment of lychee from Bắc Giang and by the afternoon of the same day, they sold nearly a tonne of lychee at two stalls located at 757 Vũ Hữu Lợi and 440 Trần Hưng Đạo in Nam Định City.
“We unloaded the lychees, weighed and divided them into bags of 2kg, received orders and then delivered them to consumers or sold them at the stalls,” Ánh said, adding that people not only bought lychee but also donated to the fund.
“We will be with Bắc Giang! We can not do big things, so we offer a little help,” Ánh said.
Support, not rescue
Sơn said that he deeply understood the hardships that local farmers faced as well as the importance of lychee fruit – a source of pride for people in Bắc Giang.
They are more proud of the fruit, as now, lychee is grown with VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards. The farming products are not only tasty but also safe. For years, Bắc Giang lychee has been exported to 30 countries all over the world including demanding markets like the US, EU and Japan. In the domestic market, the fruit is sold in major supermarket chains.
Sơn said that since the beginning of harvest time, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bắc Giang lychee could reach consumers both in and outside of the country.
Bắc Giang authorities were determined to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lychee harvesting and consumption.
Particularly, the authorities set up COVID-19-free lychee growing areas, meaning that in lychee growing areas, all people suspected to have close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases are taken to concentrated quarantine areas and none of such areas are located in lychee growing areas.
Checkpoints have been set up to strictly control and monitor people and vehicles entering the lychee growing areas. All drivers, workers and traders arriving in lychee growing areas must take quick COVID-19 tests.
All vehicles carrying lychee must be disinfected.
Trần Quang Tấn, director of the province’s Trade and Industry Department, said that lychee farmers would feel hurt if they hear their fruit needed rescuing.
The province’s authorities called for support, not rescue. To some extent, when it comes to “farming product rescue campaigns”, people tend to think about abundant, cheap, low-quality products.
“Bắc Giang lychee does not need rescuing,” Sơn said, adding that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, since the beginning of harvest time, the lychee consumption was still going on.
“Difficulties? Yes, we face a lot of difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we need your support to overcome them. Bắc Giang will overcome all such difficulties,” Sơn said.
“Bắc Giang people are now proud to offer tasty lychee at reasonable prices. As the consumption goes smoothly, both farmers and consumers are happy for the benefits they get,” Sơn said.
The lychee harvest time in Bắc Giang province will last about one and a half months. The province reported more than 70,000 tonnes were sold, meaning that more than 100,000 tonnes of Bắc Giang lychee still needs to be sold. This year, lychee prices are similar to those of last year, ranging from VND13,000 to VND30,000 per kilo ($0.5-1.3). VNS
Please scan this QR code to buy Bắc Giang lychee.