Vietnam became the first country to export dragon fruits to New Zealand after the two countries signed a program on May 28 to set out procedures to ensure biosecurity and health requirements of the fruit.
The Official Assurance Program was signed in Hanoi between New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Haike Manning and Nguyen Xuan Hong, director of the Plant Protection Department under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Vietnamese leaders from Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs also witnessed the signing ceremony.
The program sets out procedures and activities carried out prior to export to ensure that fresh dragon fruit imported from Vietnam to New Zealand meet biosecurity and import health requirements.
Manning said Vietnam is now the first and only country approved to export dragon fruit to New Zealand.
“I am sure imports will start arriving on New Zealand shores soon so that New Zealand consumers can start enjoying this wonderful tropical fruit,” he said.
In 2011, Vietnamese mangoes were approved for exporting to New Zealand, which is also working on a request to allow the export of Vietnamese rambutan.
According to New Zealand Embassy in Vietnam, the Vietnam - New Zealand Premium Fruit Variety Development Project sponsored by New Zealand’s official development assistance program has also contributed significantly to the growth of the dragon fruit industry in Vietnam.
Researchers from New Zealand’s Plant and Food Research in collaboration with Vietnamese Agricultural Research Institute successfully found ways to control a dragon fruit canker disease that has broken out across Asia, and these methods will be soon used across Vietnam.
Another unexpected success of the project has been the legal protection of a specific dragon fruit variety (LD5) and sale of the licence for the fruit to a commercial farm.
“This is the first time a fruit variety in Vietnam has been legally protected in this way and demonstrates that of fruit varieties that are legally protected can deliver premiums to producers through increased market recognition,” the New Zealand Embassy said in a statement.
“New dragon fruit varieties being developed under the project will also be bred to have resistance to the dragon fruit canker disease,” it added.
Trade is an important part of the bilateral relationship between New Zealand and Vietnam. At the end of 2013, total two-way goods trade increased from US$761.7 million to $926.8 million, a 21.7 percent increase from 2012.
New Zealand exports to Vietnam are predominantly dairy products (52 percent) followed by wood products (13 percent).
New Zealand's imports from Vietnam are more varied, with steady growth in imports of a number of food and beverage products, particularly coconuts, crustaceans and coffee. Other growth categories for imports include telephones/cellphones and computers, which showed a 125 percent and 242 percent increase on the previous year.
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