|Preliminary processing of fresh bananas for export at Realfarm Company (Dong Nai). Photo: NH|
Open the door to China
On February 22, the People’s Committee of Dong Nai province held the official export ceremony of fresh bananas to the Chinese market in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). This was considered the opening event for the breakthrough of Vietnam’s banana exports in 2023.
According to statistics from the Department of crop production (MARD), the country has about 154,000 hectares of banana cultivation with an output of 2.3 million tons/per year. Banana is a fruit that can be harvested all year round and has become a strong export product of Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable industry. In 2022, Vietnam’s fresh banana export value reached US$10.6 million, an increase of 34.5% compared to 2021. Banana export has surpassed mango to become the second largest fruit in terms of turnover, only after dragon fruit. In addition to the Chinese market, Vietnam exports bananas to Singapore, Malaysia, the Middle East, and Russia.
Tran Lam Sinh, Deputy Director of Dong Nai Department of Agriculture and Rural Development:
About 3-5 years ago, the government and the people were confused when coding the planting area. However, after deeply integrating into the international market, the growing area code has shown that this is a lever for members participating in the production and consumption chain to promote their roles and responsibilities. It is also the basis for people to invest in production expansion sustainably.
Dong Nai province is considered the capital of banana trees, with 13,149 hectares, accounting for 8.53 banana area of the whole country. Accordingly, the banana is considered one of the 24 key crops of the province. Moreover, this is one of the few fruit trees capable of developing into concentrated production areas of 400-500 hectares. The average yield is about 40 – 45 tons/ha (while the potential can reach 50 – 55 tons/ha). Output is estimated at 450,000 tons/year; more than 80% is for export. After deducting the expenses, the income of banana farmers is about VND200 million/ha/year.
Especially in early November 2022, the Protocol on the official export of fresh bananas from Vietnam to China was signed. This means fresh bananas have a sustainable passport to China, ensuring output and stable prices. This is also the driving force for businesses, cooperatives, and banana farmers to invest methodically, scientifically boldly, and with high standards to bring Vietnamese bananas to dominate the Chinese market and many other markets worldwide. In particular, the good implementation of the Protocol’s contents will reduce the rate of phytosanitary inspection at the border gate, speed up customs clearance, create favourable conditions for exporters, and contribute to reducing congestion at the border gate.
Talking to the CustomsNews, large banana exporters such as Huy Long An – My Binh Co., Ltd., and Thanh Binh Cooperative (Dong Nai) all said that the order situation in 2023 was remarkably high compared to the previous year, not only in the Chinese market but also in other markets, and the price was also very good, bringing farmers and enterprises good income from banana trees.
Nguyen Hoa Tuong, Consul General of China in HCM City, said that Chinese people love to eat bananas, so this would be a potential market for Vietnamese bananas. Accordingly, the Chinese side is willing to help Vietnamese farmers and businesses to jointly promote cooperation and the brand of fresh Vietnamese bananas in this market.
On the side of importers, Ta To Tuong, managing director of Sofia Shanghai International Trade Co., Ltd., said that the company had imported bananas from Vietnam for 10 years, from a few hundred containers the first time to thousands of containers. Due to the similarity in climate, fresh Vietnamese bananas face great competition from Southeast Asian countries, but Tuong still appreciates the quality of Vietnamese bananas.
Lieu A Kieu, Director of Kelly Sangle International Co., Ltd., said that the position of fresh Vietnamese bananas in the international market was increasing. In the last 3-5 years, Vietnam has dominated the banana market share in China and surpassed its heavyweight competitor, the Philippines.
Comply with the rules of importing countries
Although the market situation is very good, Vietnam’s banana industry is continuously investing heavily to increase the quality and added value to maintain this positivity in the long term. Le Viet Binh, MARD’s Deputy-Chief of Office in charge of the South, recommended that the big gate be opened, but it could be closed at any time if we do not follow the rules of host countries. The rules are very strict, reflected in eight articles of the Protocol on registration, management of growing areas, packaging and processing, inspection and quarantine before export, plant quarantine at the border, and additional assessment.
Sharing the same view, Vo Quan Huy, Director of Huy Long An – My Binh Co., Ltd., said that in the past two years, the Chinese market has rapidly grown, and the number of rich and middle-class people has increased rapidly, leading to high demands for products. “If China is considered an important market, enterprises must ensure the quality required by importers,” said Huy.
Meanwhile, Kieu said, many partners wanted to sign long-term contracts with stable quantity and price for 1-2 years, but the company did not dare to sign because the output and quality were not guaranteed. Accordingly, Vietnam needs to continue to have large output and uniform quality.
To maintain the market for fresh bananas, Binh said that the MARD and specialized units always accompanied the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development in guiding and supervising farmers, growing areas, and packing facilities to build quality management and traceability systems and apply good agricultural practices according to the eight articles specified in the Protocol. Binh also suggested that the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development focus on guiding, training, and propagating banana farmers to comply with the provisions of the Protocol, ensuring stable banana exports, and guiding banana farmers to apply good agricultural practices.
These solutions have now been deployed effectively in many large enterprises. Typically, Huy Long An-My Binh Company has built its standards based on the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese market specifications. Meanwhile, at Thanh Binh Cooperative, Ly Minh Hung, Director of the cooperative, said that they were moving towards the circular agriculture model and promoting deeply processed products to increase the value of banana trees and the income of banana farmers.