Tien Giang Enhances Fruit Competitiveness

2:45:37 PM | 8/2/2012

With a fruit-growing area of 68,000 ha which yields some 1 million tonnes of fruit a year, including various specialty fruits like Hoa Loc mango, Co Co grapefruit, Lo Ren star apple, Cho Gao dragon fruit, Go Cong cherry and Ngu Hiep durian, Tien Giang province is considered the “kingdom of fruits” in the Mekong Delta and the entire country. In the past years, Tien Giang growers kept ahead by improving and upgrading orchards, with the most notable success of being certified with Global Good Agriculture Practice (Global GAP) standards, asserting the strong brand of Tien Giang fruit in particular and Vietnamese produce in general on the international arena.
Focusing on hygiene and food safety
MrNguyen Tan Quoc, Director of the Agricultural, Forest and Aquatic Product Quality Management Division under the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tien Giang province, said: Defining the importance of product quality, hygiene and safety, in the past years Tien Giang province has guided relevant parties to follow safe production practices to ensure consumer health and increase product competitiveness on the market. The province has formed orchards and applied GAP (Good Agriculture Practice) standards. For example, Lo Ren star apple farming is subject to Global GAP standard and Tan Lap pineapple has applied VietGAP. And, remarkably its rambutan and litchi were certified with VietGAP certificates in July and September 2011
 
Tien Giang province now has more than 20 types of fruit trees, of which seven are defined as key plants and branded collective trademarks. Specifically, it has 2,300 ha of Hoa Loc mango, mainly in Chau Thanh and Cai Lay districts; 1,725 ha of Co Co grapefruit, mainly in Cai Be and Chau Thanh districts; 5,500 ha area of Ngu Hiep durian, mainly in Cai Lay district; 2,100 ha of Cho Gao dragon fruit; and 700 ha of Go Gong cherry, mainly in Go Cong Dong district and Go Cong town. Apart from the aforesaid seven key crops, the province also has other fruit varieties like orange, tangerine, longan and rambutan. These highly commercial fruits are among farming models with revenue of VND80 - 100 million a hectare. Some fruit farmers even earn VND300 million a hectare.
 
Tien Giang now has 15 fruit cooperatives and 19 small production groups, whose operations are mainly supported by the State. They cooperate in the transfer of GAP techniques and production experience (tending, fertilisation and pest control). They have not joined the product selling process. In the past, fresh fruits grown in Tien Giang province were mainly sold in domestic markets like Ho Chi Minh City and northern provinces, and exported to China. Canned fruits are exported to the European Union (30 percent), and Asia and Australia (30 percent). Cherry, dragonfruit and mango have been sold to China, the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Germany and Russia. Although the volume of fruits exported to world markets remains small, the name of Tien Giang fruits is now very well-known. Japanese consumers are very keen on Hoa Loc mango and Go Cong cherry. The volume of canned fruits for export has increased steadily from 4,573 tonnes in 2006 to 9,289 tonnes in 2010, and export value also grew correspondingly from US$3.8 million in 2006 to US$8.9 million in 2010.
 
In order to promote the popularity of products and find customers, the province has focused on supporting enterprises and cooperatives to join many trade fairs, exhibitions and market surveys in the country and in foreign nations. Especially in 2010, the Vietnam Fruits Festival - the first to be held in Tien Giang - had a positive impact on local fruit production.
 
Strengthening links between businesses and farmers
Mr Cao Van Hoa, Deputy Director of Tien Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: According to the province’s orientations, fruit production will be commercialised and expanded; fruit quality will be necessarily improved; production costs will reduced; and fruit production will be gradually linked to ecotourism. To do so, the province’s fruits will have competitiveness, efficiency and sustainable development in the context of Vietnam’s deeper international integration. The province has identified fruit crops with strong potential for development investment. All stages of production, purchase, preservation, processing and consumption of key crops will be closely interlinked. The value chain will be formed, with the connection between companies and farmers being very important. On that basis, localities in key fruit tree areas will have to define 1 - 3 primary fruit crops and invest to develop concentrated GAP-standard production areas.
 
According to Mr Hoa, to keep Tien Giang fruits developing sustainably on the right track, the province has effectively carried out planning solutions. Particularly, it sets up fruit tree plans for the period from now to 2020 on the basis of defining adaptability zones, flood control and irrigation projects in response to climate change and sea level rise. It has formed three specialised cultivation areas to increase the number and quality of fruit products. As regards infrastructure investment solutions, the province increased investment for constructing infrastructure supporting harvesting, trading, processing, packaging and shipping fruits. With technical and technological advances, the province will be able to ensure high-quality fruit trees for farmers. The province will also focus on lowering production costs and applying GAP standards to all production areas.
 
To enhance the competitiveness of specialty fruits and ensure high-quality agricultural products for domestic consumption and export, Tien Giang province is carrying out four key projects worth VND113 billion to develop the gardening economy from 2011 to 2015. The province aims to expand the specialised farming area, apply GAP standards to production, and ensure food safety and environment protection in association with popularisation, trade promotion and branding of Tien Giang specialty fruits on domestic and international markets. It aims to enlarge fruit farming areas from the current 67,600 ha to 79,800 ha in 2015, to bring up total output to over 1.18 million tonnes of fruits. Particularly, the acreage of Lo Ren - Vinh Kim star apple will be increased from 4,300 ha to 7,100 ha; dragon fruit area from 3,350 ha to 4,600 ha; and durian from 5,380 ha to 5,820 ha. By 2015, up to 80 percent of growers and 50 percent of acreage will be certified with GAP standards.
 
To achieve these objectives, the province will complete regional and subregional farming planning, build a favourable traffic system to boost fruit trade, and increase investment for preservation and processing of fruits to gradually enhance quality and value.
 
Thanh Thao