More farmland should be devoted to cultivation of fruits especially key exports experts said at a conference held in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
Nguyen Hong Son, Director of the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said on December 5 that focus should be on quality to ensure safety and hygiene of fruit exports.
Reducing post-harvest losses and increasing capacity in storage were also needed, he said.
A farmer takes care of his dragon fruit (Source: tiengiang.gov.vn)
Son said that fruit cultivation areas had increased in recent years, with a total of over 857,000ha. The increase was partly due to farmers shifting from cultivating rice to fruits.
The areas for fruit growing are mostly in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and Hong (Red River) Delta regions, he said.
Because of the use of advanced technologies, fruit yields have surged in recent years.
Cao Văn Hoa, a high-ranking official from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tien Giang, said his province had nearly 73,000ha of fruit trees, with an average of 1.3 million tonnes produced each year.
Nguyen Thanh Tai, Deputy Director of Dong Thap’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said his province had over 27,000ha of fruit cultivation, with some areas growing famous fruits like Cao Lanh mango, Chau Thanh longan and lemon, and Lai Vung mandarin.
In the 2016-17 period, local farmers switched to fruit trees from rice on a total of nearly 3,000ha, he added.
At the conference, speakers noted that fruit exports had yet to reach their potential even though efforts had been made to expand cultivation.
Poor storage and harvesting methods had contributed to the slow growth of fruit exports.
Vo Mai, Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnam Gardening Association, said the biggest weakness was processing, this was why 80 percent of fruits were sold in the domestic market, with most of it consumed raw.
Mai suggested that the Government develop better management methods. Each fruit should have a specialised area, she said, as it would be easier to manage, process and ensure food hygiene and safety.
These areas should be developed under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards, she added.
Conference attendees also suggested that enterprises and farmers improve cooperation to ensure large-scale production and authentic origin.
Le Quoc Doanh, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that Vietnam has many advantages to develop fruit production, but limited information about import markets was hindering growth.
He also said that prices and yields were not stable, and that competition from other markets was a significant burden.
To develop better production methods, the country needs to improve cooperation among all involved parties, and process and persify fruit products to ensure added value.
More trade promotions are also needed to reduce the dependence on one market, he said.
In recent years, the country's vegetable and fruit export revenue has increased, with US$2.4 billion recorded last year, a rise of 33.6% year-on-year.
This year, it is expected to be between US$3.46 billion and US$3.63 billion. With this figure, Vietnam now ranks third out of five key fruit exporters in the ASEAN region.
Vietnamese fruits are exported to 60 nations and territories. The main fruit exports are dragon fruit, pipe apple, mango, jackfruit and papaya.