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Dragon fruit haul to take flight

A farmer picks dragon fruit in Rongan in China’s southern Guangxi province.
A farmer picks dragon fruit in Rongan in China’s southern Guangxi province. AFP

Dragon fruit haul to take flight

Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), a Vietnamese conglomerate that operates in property, mining, commercial agriculture and hydropower, will make its second official export of dragon fruit next week from its plantations in Ratanakkiri province, a company representative said.

The company is currently harvesting its second shipment of dragon fruit, said Thach Quanh Tha, director of administration for HAGL, and will transport it overland to port facilities in Vietnam and then load it onto a container ship bound for buyers in China. Its first shipment registered at 100 tonnes.

“We will start our second shipment of dragon fruit to China through Vietnam next week,” he said.

Meanwhile, HAGL has been making banana shipments to China since July from its 1,000-hectare banana plantation in northeastern Cambodia through its three subsidiaries, Hoang Anh Andong Meas, Hoang Anh Romphat and Hoang Anh Daun Penh Agrico.

Thach said dragon fruit and banana cultivation was part of the agro giant’s efforts to diversify its Cambodian operations beyond rubber and palm oil which have bottomed out on the back of low global commodity prices. The company has invested in planting 14 different types of fruit for export.

In Chayvan, president of Kampong Speu Mangoes Association, said that while he welcomed the news that Cambodian fruits are reaching the Chinese market, he questioned why the Vietnamese giant could breeze past stringent sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations that have hamstrung the mango industry.

“I am happy to hear that dragon fruit from Cambodia can reach the Chinese market, but I wonder how come our mangoes still face SPS barriers even when trying to enter the Thai and Vietnamese market,” he said, adding that the association has been trying to get mangoes into the Chinese market for the last three years.

Kampong Speu province alone has 40,000 hectares dedicated for mangoes, he added.

“If we can export our mangoes, it would be hugely profitable, not only for farmers but for the reputation of the Ministry of Agriculture who claim they are still working on SPS agreements,” he said.

But Soy Sona, director of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Agriculture Department, said that HAGL already had its 380-hectare dragon fruit plantation certified with SPS standards by the Ministry of Agriculture when it made its first shipment.

“The company has already passed SPS standards and it has a good network in Vietnam so that it can reach the Chinese market,” he said. “We will see if they can continue to secure stable orders before we encourage our local farmers to cultivate dragon fruit in order to earn individual profits.”

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