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Despite the great potentials, Vietnamese fruits still have to go on a tough road to reach the world market.
According to the Southern Fruit Research Institute, in 2011, vegetable and fruit exports brought the revenue of 500 million dollars, an increase of 30-40 million dollars in comparison with 2010. However, this was really a modest figure if compared with the total export turnover of 15 billion dollars of agricultural production in total.
GAP-standard products sold at low prices
Dr Nguyen Minh Chau, Head of the Institute, said that in order to boost exports, farmers should organize intensive cultivation areas, which have Global GAP and Viet GAP certificates, to produce fruits in large scale.
In 2011, Vietnam’s longan and rambutan were allowed to enter the US market, which previously only accepted dragon fruit. South Korea also has opened its market to Vietnam’s dragon fruit. If businesses can be more dynamic, they can export more pomelo to Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore.
In fact, there are many more things farmers have to do than expected to export Mekong Delta’s fruits. Dam Van Hung, the owner of Huong Mien Tay fruit granary in Ben Tre province, related that one day he was asked by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to introduce green-skin pomelo at the London international trade fair with the financial support of the ministry. Hung then refused the opportunity, because he flinched from technical barriers.
The pomelo is very delicious, but farmers do not follow any quality standards, and everyone grows pomelo his way. “If clients ask me what cultivation standards farmers follow, I do not know how to answer,” he said.
Also according to Hung, Ben Tre green-skin pomelo meets Viet GAP, but importers require Global GAP. Therefore, enterprises have to export products through many intermediaries, because of which the costs increase by 300 dollars per ton.
Meanwhile, rambutan growers in Cai Lay district have also complained that though they have to follow strict rules in cultivation, but they can sell at 4000 dong per kilo only, equal to the prices of normal products.
Involved parties break contracts
Nguyen Van Muoi, the owner of the 8500 hectare star apple orchard in Tien Giang province said that he and other farmers once decided to follow Global GAP process to grow star apples after Lo Ren Vinh Kim signed a contract on responsible for the outlet of the products.
However, the farmers could not sell any product to the cooperative which said that it could not find any buyers, and they had to sell the fruit on the domestic market.
In another case, it was the farmers who broke the contract. Phan Quoc Nam, Director of Long Uyen Tien Giang Company said that it is very difficult to cooperate with farmers.
“Even if you sign contracts with farmers on material supply, you would only buy materials at the contracted prices if the market prices go down. If the market prices at the delivery time are higher than the contracted prices, farmers would break the contracts and refuse to deliver products,” Nam said.
“Therefore, you always have to keep cautious in doing business. If you sign contracts with foreign exporters and you cannot collect materials from farmers, you may lose your shirt,” he continued.
“As far as I know, Thai government subsidizes the air transport fee for the fresh fruits are shipped by air. Meanwhile, Vietnamese farmers cannot enjoy the policy. How can Vietnamese fruits compete with Thai?” he added.
Source: Phap luat TPHCM/ VNN
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