Covid-19 hotspot lacks people to pluck lychees

By Hoang Phuong   June 7, 2021 | 05:20 am PT
Covid-19 hotspot lacks people to pluck lychees
A policeman harvests lychees in Luc Ngan District, June 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Bac Giang Province, Vietnam’s lychee hub, lacks around 5,000 workers for picking the fruit, which is in season, because many people are quarantined.

Usually over 20,000 people, including Luc Ngan District residents and those from neighboring localities, are engaged to harvest lychees each year. However, the district has only managed to mobilize around 15,000 people this year, including farmers, youth, and even policemen and soldiers.

Bac Giang is the country’s Covid-19 epicenter with 3,211 cases as of Monday evening since the start of the fourth wave on May 27.

Nguyen Viet Oanh, secretary of the Luc Ngan Party Committee, said Monday morning that the lack of lychee pickers is a major problem because the district sells around 7000 tons each day. There are not enough people to pluck the lychees that will ripen in the next four to five days, Oanh said.

To address the shortage, the district has established 400 teams taking turns to harvest the fruit, and has even mobilized policemen from other localities.

Luc Ngan is a safe lychee farming area, with the district having completed community testing for Covid-19 and finding no cases, Oanh said. Local authorities have vaccinated drivers and lychee merchants, set up rapid Covid-19 testing points in lychee gathering areas.

Luc Ngan is Bac Giang’s main lychee growing area with 15,000 hectares. The district estimates it will harvest 140,000 tons of lychees this year.

The district earned VND4 trillion ($260.2 million) from lychees sales last year, and another VND2 trillion from related logistics services like transporting and packaging.

Bac Giang had sold nearly 50,000 tons of lychees as of Sunday, of which 33 percent was exported to China, the U.S. and Japan.

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