Last week the Vietnamese and Australian authorities inked a memorandum of understanding on 'improving the post-harvest quality of temperate fruits in Viet Nam and Australia'. The memorandum was signed by the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong and Australian Embassy's Deputy Head of Mission Ralph King.
The project is said to have an investment capital of more than AUD 1.2 million (€688,000) will be over a period of four years and undertaken by the Institute for Vegetables Research of the northern Lao Cai province's Agriculture and Rural Development Service in coordination with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
According to Ralph King, the project will focus on the northern mountainous provinces Lao Cai and Son La, which are among Viet Nam's poorest localities. The authorities says that the project has been created to increase returns to the Vietnamese and Australian temperate fruit industries and to deliver high quality produce to consumers. It is expected to minimise post-harvest losses and maximise fruit quality using integrated fruit production and improve post-harvest management practices throughout the supply chain.
Capacity enhancement specific to this project will occur through training farmers, post-harvest managers and scientists in improved orchard management practices, post-harvest technology and in supply chain management.
Currently between 30 to 40 per cent of fruit produced in Viet Nam is believed to be lost and does not reach the market, a figure that is considerably above that expected in more developed markets. Indeed, in Europe and the US, it is not unknown for fruit farmers to achieved 95 per cent production efficiency in fruit harvesting.
In Vietnam temperate fruits are grown in the ten northwestern mountainous provinces, mainly in Lao Cai, Son La, Yen Bai, Cao Bang and Lang Son. It is expected to have 100,000 ha of temperate fruits cultivation by 2010 to meet domestic and export demands.
Meanwhile the production of temperate fruits has also risen enormously in Australia in recent years, with peach, nectarine and persimmons proving to be the most popular crops. They are planted in the sub-tropical regions, generally in Western Australia and Queensland.