Northern province seeks ways to sell lychees as Covid hits exports

By Anh Minh   May 25, 2021 | 10:59 pm GMT-8
Northern province seeks ways to sell lychees as Covid hits exports
A farmer harvests lychees in Luc Ngan District, Bac Giang Province. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Bac Giang, Vietnam's lychee growing hub, is switching from export of the fruit to selling in the domestic market sue to the Covid-19 pandemic, and farmers are struggling.

Bay, who has a two-hectare lychee orchard in Giap Son village, Luc Ngan District, said: "I used to sell 4-5 tons of lychees a day in previous years, but now I only sell half as much."

She said Chinese traders are unable to visit to buy lychees as they normally do since Bac Giang is one of provinces worst hit by the pandemic. It has recorded 1,481 cases as of Wednesday since the fourth wave began on April 27.

She now relies greatly on selling to the province cooperative, and hopes the pandemic would soon be under control and Chinese traders could come again during the main harvest season between mid-June and the end of July.

Another lychee farmer in Luc Ngan District, Sinh, said prices are lower than usual.

"Prices on the first day of harvest this year were VND20,000-25,000 ($0.86-1.08) per kilogram, VND10,000 less than last year."

He attributed the drop to the smaller number of buyers in the absence of Chinese traders.

Bac Giang has 28,100 hectares under the fruit, and expects to harvest 180,000 tons this year, up 8 percent from 2020, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to Luc Ngan vice chairman Nguyen The Thi, around 67,000 tons grown in the district would be sold for domestic consumption, 23,000 tons would be used for dry lychee processing, and only 32,000 tons would be exported.

Speaking to VnExpress, Nguyen Van Phuong, deputy director of the Bac Giang Department of Industry and Trade, said his agency has worked with Chinese traders and local lychee exporters, and decided trucks with the fruits from Bac Giang would gather one kilometer from the China border for disinfection.

The Chinese would then take the trucks and drive them to a spot to load the fruits in their vehicles, he said.

"Each batch of goods will have a QR code to provide information about the production area, farmers, preservation, and shipping progress."

The province has set up a lychee export support team each at the border in Lao Cai and Lang Son provinces to quickly resolve difficulties arising in cross-border trade.

To protect the lychee growing areas, the province has set up checkpoints on roads leading to them and quarantines everyone who comes into contact with Covid-19 patients.

Visitors have their temperature checked and need to provide medical declarations at the checkpoints, while vehicles are disinfected.

Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien has called on Vietnam’s trade offices in foreign countries to help Bac Giang Province promote and sell its lychees in overseas markets and the Vietnam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency to help sell online and promote the fruits through online trade promotion events.

Bac Giang was Vietnam’s main lychee growing area with the fruit grown on 28,000 hectares last year, according to the province portal.

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