It is expected that from June 15, the Luc Ngan district will harvest the primary lychee season and finish around the end of July 2022, with an estimated output of about 75,000 tonnes. However, the concerns about price, consumption market, etc are always on.

Luc Ngan lychee has started to ripen. (Photo: Internet)

In the past, the leaders of Luc Ngan district (Bac Giang province) have worked with China. The Chinese have agreed to prioritize a green channel to Luc Ngan lychee, to “clear” the difficulties for customs clearance at the border gate and avoid the congestion when exporting lychee. Trucks carrying lychee, after quarantine procedures, will be allowed to go separately to the other side of the border without having to line up in turn like others.

To better understand the story of finding a way out for lychee, VnEconomy discussed with Mr. La Van Nam, Chairman of Luc Ngan District People’s Committee, Bac Giang Province.

Mr. La Van Nam, Chairman of Luc Ngan District People’s Committee, Bac Giang Province. (Photo: Internet)

Can you share a little about the production and consumption of Luc Ngan lychee this year?

The whole district has about 16,000 hectares of lychee, of which more than 12,000 hectares are grown under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards; nearly 500 hectares are grown under export standards to Japan, the US, and the EU. 100% of the district’s lychee area meets the standard of exporting to China.

Currently, Luc Ngan has 35 growing area codes approved by China, with an area of 11,423 hectares and 237 packing facilities. Besides, the district also has 30 growing area codes approved by Japan, with an area of 224.5 hectares and one packing facility.

It is expected that from June 15, Luc Ngan will harvest the primary lychee season and finish around the end of July 2022, with an estimated output of about 75,000 tonnes. As of June 10, the whole district has 96 sites weighing and buying lychee. Currently, the locality has signed a memorandum of understanding with many organizations and enterprises on the consumption of lychee with an output of about 45 thousand tonnes. The district has prepared the conditions for banking services, parking lots, etc. 

In 2022, due to favorable weather conditions, lychee trees bloom and bear fruit at a rate of 70-90%. It is forecast that the production of Luc Ngan lychee will reach more than 95,000 tonnes. In particular, for early ripening lychee, Luc Ngan this year harvested 21,000 tonnes and consumed over 15,000 tonnes up to now. The selling price from the beginning of the season is very stable and higher than last year’s price.

Every year, after May 5, the price usually goes down, but this year, the price has remained stable from the beginning of the season to now. The selling price ranges from 20,000 VND/kg – 35,000 VND/kg. In general, the consumption of lychee is favorable, and farmers are excited.

Since the end of last year, China has implemented the “Zero-Covid” policy, making Vietnam’s fruit exports difficult. How did Luc Ngan district handle this challenge?

We identified the Chinese market as difficult because this country is implementing the Zero Covid campaign. At this time last year, Luc Ngan was the center of the Covid pandemic, but still consumed lychee successfully, having many valuable experiences for this year.

Being aware of the difficulties, this year, we soon worked with China, first a meeting with the Chinese embassy in Vietnam, then an online conference with our focal points, ambassadors, and consulates in China.

The third meeting of the Provincial People’s Committee was an online conference on lychee trade, with over 60 points, China alone had 18 points to participate. So, we can provide information on output, product quality, and sales methods.

This year, China has been implementing a very strict quarantine, including plant quarantine and Covid quarantine. This resulted in a delay in customs clearance at the border gate, such as at the Huu Nghi border gate, the quarantine capacity is only 200 vehicles per day. China doesn’t control the volume of goods, but it depends on the quarantine capacity of both sides.

We went to border gates in border provinces such as Quang Ninh, Lang Son, Lao Cai, and Ha Giang to open more sites to bring goods to China.

We also worked with China and they agreed to prioritize a green channel for Luc Ngan lychee. Trucks carrying lychee to the border gates will be gathered into separate parking lots. After completing the quarantine procedure, trucks will be allowed to go to the other side, not having to line up like other agricultural products.

We agreed with enterprises and traders that before bringing lychee to the border gate, we have to meet the standards required by China: no leaves, and short stalks of 10 cm or less. By doing this, the quarantine will be quick. Many years ago, when China did not have strict regulations, we still left leaves and long stalks, so the quarantine took a long time.

Along with export promotion, the domestic market is also very important. So, what specific plan did Luc Ngan have?

Since last year, when the export of lychee to China was difficult, we have aimed at the domestic market of 100 million people. Lychee exports to China before 2018 usually accounted for 60-70% of Luc Ngan’s total lychee while domestic consumption only accounted for 30-40%. But by 2021, exports were only 50% and domestic consumption 50%. This year we determined that the domestic consumption could be up to 60-65% and exporting only 30-35%.

Over the past few months, leaders of the People’s Committees of Luc Ngan district have directly gone to the focal markets in the South to offer goods and connect consumption, including the focal points in Saigon, Dong Nai, Can Tho, and Soc Trang.

Last year, Luc Ngan lychee was sold only for 15-20 thousand VND/kg but brought to Soc Trang, the price was 60-65 thousand VND/kg. So, people in Soc Trang and the South are expecting lychee from Luc Ngan.

On June 10, the Luc Ngan district held a news conference on the lychee season this year. (Photo: Internet)

Farmers in Luc Ngan often complain about traders minus back when weighing lychee. What is the opinion of the District leaders on this matter, sir?

The deepest cause of this issue is the technical barrier when sending lychee for export. Specifically, in the EU, lychee is required to be cut close to each fruit. In China, lychee must not have any leaves, stalks must be cut short by less than 10cm. On the contrary, the taste of the domestic market is that lychee must have leaves. Therefore, when farmers do not know who to sell lychee to, they leave long stalks or do not classify the fruit.

Years ago, if farmers met Chinese traders and got paid higher prices, they had two choices: hiring people to cut leaves, stalks, and sort lychee, causing losses compared to the original quantity; or accepting to sell 100 kilograms of lychee but get minus 5-7 kilograms back, even more. The minus back method is agreed upon by the two parties so it cannot be sanctioned. However, the district also takes measures to control this issue, ensuring benefits for farmers.

This year, Luc Ngan district recommends enterprises not to minus back in case of good quality lychee. Along with that, all communes in the district set up groups and hotlines with the Chairman of the Commune People’s Committee as team leader, and the Head of the Commune Police as deputy team leader. If farmers discover any faults, they can notify via hotline for the functional unit to conduct the inspection.

The route from Bac Giang city to the center of Luc Ngan district and communes in the area is still very narrow, making it difficult to transport lychee. Can you tell us if the locality has any plans to expand this route?

The Ministry of Transport has approved the project to expand and upgrade national highway 31, from Bac Giang city to Hong Giang commune with a total length of 46 km will be invested in the amount of 897 billion VND. Currently, the road has a width of 7,5 meters, the project will help expand and upgrade it to a width of 12 m.

If nothing changes, by the end of June 2022, the project will be started to upgrade this road, and by 2022-2023, the construction will be completed.

Last year, Luc Ngan district built road 289 from Chu town to Tan Moc to connect with road 293 and a branch road from road 293 to My An, continuing to Nam Duong to create a bypass road for National Highway 31. Along with that, the locality has been expanding the intra-district roads, helping vehicles go to each village to buy lychee, avoiding the purchase of lychee on the national highway, to reduce the load for National Highway 31.