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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Fruit prices plunge over backlogs at northern border

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The farm gate prices of fruits in some of the country’s biggest fruit growing regions, such as the Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands, have dropped sharply due to huge backlogs at the northern border.

The farm gate prices of some fruits such as jackfruits, dragon fruits and watermelons have plunged to below VND5,000 per kilogram, while thousands of container trucks carrying farm produce are still stuck along the northern border as China said it is tightening its Covid inspection at the border gates.

Hoa, the owner of a fruit farm in the Mekong Delta province of Long An, said last week, traders bought jackfruits from him at VND10,000-12,000 per kilogram. However, the prices have now fallen by half.

“Although the prices have dipped, it’s still hard for us to find buyers because traders worry about the rising backlogs,” he said.

Thanh, the owner of 1,000 jackfruit trees in Can Tho City, said he is selling jackfruits at VND5,000 per kilogram. “With this price, my family will suffer a huge loss. The price could decline further if backlogs at the northern border gates are not addressed soon,” he said.

According to Thanh, the farm gate prices of jackfruits in some remote areas have even plummeted to VND2,000-3,000 per kilogram.

The farm gate prices of dragon fruits and watermelons in the Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands have also edged down from VND8,000 to VND3,000-5,000 per kilogram.

Hai, who has over one hectare of watermelon in Kon Tum, said that two weeks ago, traders bought watermelons from her at VND8,000 per kilogram. However, the price has slipped to VND3,000 per kilogram.

“Although I will suffer a huge loss with this price, I have to accept it because fruits cannot be kept for a long time,” she said.

Some fruit traders said China is the biggest buyer of Vietnamese fruits. Therefore, the backlogs at the border gates with China have severely affected local farmers and traders.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development forecast that fruit production in the southern cities and provinces will reach some 1.6 million tons in the first quarter of 2022, including some 297,000 tons of dragon fruit, 250,000 tons of banana, 244,000 tons of mango, 159,000 tons of jackfruit, 144,000 tons of pomelo, 132,000 tons of orange and 127,000 tons of pineapple.

As of December 25, over 1,500 container trucks had remained stranded in Quang Ninh Province as the Chinese authorities had denied Vietnam truck drivers entry, citing concerns over Covid-19. The figure was some 4,200 in Lang Son Province.

Some 80% of the trucks carry farm produce and fruits that are likely to perish in case of long customs clearance delays.

According to the Customs Department of Lang Son Province, China plans to tighten controls over the import of goods through the border gates until March 15, 2022.

“Currently, only 78-90 container trucks can pass the border gate a day. With this pace, we will be able to clear only some 1,000 container trucks from now until the Lunar New Year,” Nguyen Huu Vuong, deputy director of the Lang Son Province Customs Department, said at a meeting on December 27.

The Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association estimated that the backlogs along the northern border could cost Vietnamese businesses up to VND4 trillion (US$175 million).

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