Vietnamese dragon fruit growers demand closer links with Chinese market amid epidemic

  • Vietnam
  • Sunday, 30 Aug 2020

Images from Vietnam News/Asian New Network

HANOI, Aug 30 (Xinhua): Nguyen Huy Phong, a 50-year-old farmer from a hamlet in Vietnam's central Binh Thuan province, has sold over 10 tons of dragon fruits from his 0.6-hectare farm so far this year, while he still expects a higher price of his harvest.

Phong has managed to sell his most recent batch of first-grade dragon fruits, which are better looking and of higher quality than normal ones, at a price of 10,000 Vietnamese dong (40 cents) per kg.

But the veteran farmer believes that the selling can be improved with a closer link with one of Vietnamese dragon fruits' largest market - China.

"We want more Chinese traders to come here to buy more fruits," Phong, who began to grow dragon fruits in 2006, told Xinhua.

Binh Thuan is one of the most concentrated dragon fruit growing areas in Vietnam, with over 30,000 hectares of land producing an annual output of more than 600,000 tons of dragon fruit, according to the province's department of agriculture and rural development.

According to Pham Thi Xinh, director of Nguyen Thuan Agricultural Product Import-Export Company in Binh Thuan, China has been a major exporting market for them. "Last month, our company bought dozens of tons of dragon fruits on average everyday, which are mostly exported to China," she told Xinhua.

For ordinary dragon fruit growers like Phong, selling their fruits to local traders who then sell the fruits to Chinese buyers is a common practice currently, however, they expect a more direct approach.

"If Chinese traders engage with us directly, we may also benefit from higher selling prices," Phong said, adding that he expects more trade promotion efforts made by Vietnam to facilitate Chinese traders' purchase.

According to the Trade Promotion Agency under the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam has the largest dragon fruit-growing area in Asia, with its dragon fruits exported to a number of countries and regions, mainly China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

"China continues to be Vietnam's key export market of agricultural products," Vo Tri Thanh, former deputy head of Vietnam's Central Institute for Economic Management, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Thanh said the two countries see good trade relations despite the Covid-19 epidemic.

"Both countries have controlled the epidemic well, which is an advantage for import and export activities. We have also seen that in recent months, the customs clearance procedure has been improved, which helps save a lot of time," said Thanh.

China is an important market not only for Vietnam but also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in general.

In the first seven months of this year, the Asean remained China's largest trading partner, with trade up 6.6 percent year on year to 2.51 trillion yuan (US$365.6 billion), according to China's General Administration of Customs.

The robust bilateral trade growth was applauded by economic ministers from China and the Asean members at the 19th AEM (Asean Economic Ministers)-MOFCOM (China's Ministry of Commerce) Consultations held via video link on Thursday.

In a media statement of the meeting, the ministers said the growth showed the resilience and huge potential of trade and economic cooperation between China and the Asean, reaffirming the importance of strengthened cooperation to promote trade and investment for economic recovery.

This may also be a positive signal for a smoother and more profitable export of dragon fruits from Vietnam, which saw an export value of over US$600 million of the iconic agricultural produce in the first six months this year, according to Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

"I hope that more consumers in foreign markets, especially the giant Chinese market, can enjoy our fresh, sweet and succulent dragon fruits," Phong said. - Xinhua
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