Vietnamese longan and lychee have become the country’s third and fourth fruits to enter the US market, after dragon fruit and rambutan, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Dr Nguyen Huu Dat of the ministry's Plant Protection Department told Tuoi Tre newspaper that the department will work with US testing officials in Vietnam to select ideal cultivation areas.
Like the other fruit, Dat said, longan and lychee exported to the US must be raised according to VietGap standards, which are the local equivalent of GlobalGAP or EuroGAP to guarantee quality and safety as well as ensure transparent origins.
Vietnam began exporting dragon fruit to the US in 2008 and rambutan in 2011.
“Exporting agricultural produce, particularly fruit, to the US, is not simple at all,” the paper quoted Dat as saying.
Vietnam must file an application, present a list of pests that can occur in the plants, the risks of their introduction to the US ecosystem and possible mitigation strategies.
The negotiations on dragon fruit took four years (starting in 2004) to complete.
He said that this time, Vietnamese officials are familiar with the process and expect it to take less time.
Vietnamese agencies, for example, can now take charge of irradiating the fruit to eliminate pests, he said.
The US will provide certain assistance as an importer, but the market expansion largely depends on the Vietnamese exporters, Dat said.
Dragon fruit exports from Vietnam increased from 100 tons in the first year to more than 1,200 tons in 2012 and counting.
The fruit is mostly bound for asian markets inside the US.