Lychee going digital thanks to Vietrade’s online tie-ups

May 24, 2021 | 14:38
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Lychee – the small, rounded fruit with its sweet, white scented flesh – is on its way to Japanese customers thanks to the activities of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and more lenient regulations from the Japanese side. Besides this, consumers can now order the refreshing delicacies online on platforms like Lazada.
lychee going digital thanks to vietrades online tie ups
Lychees from Thanh Ha district in Hai Duong province can now be found on Lazada, Photo: Dung Minh

Lazada is the first e-commerce service to offer lychees from the northern province of Hai Duong’s Thanh Ha district on its platform, starting this month. Thanh Ha lychees are now being sold within the framework of the National Trade Promotion Programme on Lazada, with preferential price and attractive delivery and support policies, thereby meeting the needs of consumers and opening an effective business channel for businesses and sellers.

“Our top goal is to accompany the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) and support local businesses and sellers to promote Thanh Ha lychees on Lazada,” said James Dong, general director of Lazada Vietnam.

The e-commerce platform is expected to distribute Thanh Ha lychees with fast delivery options within four hours to consumers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, ensuring maximum freshness and typical flavour of this speciality.

Making agricultural products on e-commerce platforms available can be an effective sales method, especially during the pandemic, and will create a more sustainable distribution channel for other local produce. However, opening a new sales channel requires the efforts of many stakeholders.

Vu Ba Phu, general director of Vietrade, said that after completing the deal with Lazada, his agency has scheduled a meeting with Sendo to bring lychees and other typical agricultural products of Hai Duong also to its e-commerce platform. The agency’s main role is to coordinate with e-commerce platforms to connect with supply chains, ensuring the logistics system meets business requirements.

Hai Duong is located within the Red River Delta, a locality with strengths in agricultural development. Annually, the province’s agricultural products are consumed in very large quantities, with many kinds of products in specialised cultivation meant for domestic consumption and exports. The area’s products include kohlrabi, zucchini, pumpkin, lychee, and guava, as well as livestock, poultry, and aquatic products. In recent years, the province has promoted agricultural production towards large-scale production, thereby increasing productivity, quality, and output for crops and livestock.

From local specialities towards Vietnamese brands

The trade promotion activities of Vietrade are part of the Vietnam Value Programme – the unique, long-term trade promotion programme of the government. The scheme was approved by the prime minister and carried out by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and related ministries and branches, with products even reaching recognition at the National Assembly. Participating companies must go through a strict and transparent selection process according to the administrative procedures specified in the prime minister’s Decision No.30/2019/QD-TTg from 2019 and the criteria system of the Minister of Industry and Trade.

As the government agency implementing the Vietnam Value Programme, Vietrade will coordinate with the Intellectual Property Office under Ministry of Science and Technology and other relevant ministries and agencies, as well as Hai Duong People’s Committee, to support and guide lychee farmers in registering geographical indications in Vietnam as well as abroad.

Besides this, Vietrade is going to raise awareness for Vietnam’s products, including Thanh Ha lychees, among international customers through channels such as e-commerce and trade promotion and diplomatic events abroad. Vietrade also providing technical assistance to lychee-exporting companies in building and developing their brands, thereby helping them to improve their branding capacity and competitiveness on domestic and international markets. Thanks to this, lychee companies in Hai Duong can meet the three criteria of the Vietnam Value Programme: quality, innovation, and leadership.

Technical obstacles

The hybrid conference to connect and promote the consumption of lychees and other agricultural products of Hai Duong was organised by Vietrade in collaboration with Hai Duong People’s Committee last week. The conference saw the participation of dozens of foreign markets like the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the United States.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s participation in many free trade agreements (FTAs) with international partners such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the EU-Vietnam FTA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the most recent UK-Vietnam FTA is creating many advantages in terms of tariffs for exports of agricultural products but also sets higher technical barriers such as requirements on quality, design, nutritional content, and other strict specifications.

The outbreak of the pandemic last year forced Vietrade to temporarily halt promotional activities for Hai Duong’s agricultural enterprises, as these could not directly participate in foreign market trade delegations and approach foreign companies and potential importers in countries like China, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates to introduce their products and connect with partners.

At the end of February and the beginning of March, when Hai Duong was forced to implement a local lockdown, Vietrade organised many support activities and managed to distribute 102 tonnes of Hai Duong’s agricultural products through both on- and offline sales channels.

Vietrade cooperated with Sendo to launch a distribution scheme in which interested buyers could purchase 1kg of produce for just VND1,000 (4 US cents), without any limitation on the amount. This programme was implemented in March, focusing on customers from Hanoi and nearby provinces. Consequently, 26 tonnes of agricultural produce, including kohlrabi, cabbage, and tomatoes, from Hai Duong had been sold.

Diverse connections

Online shopping is becoming more popular on a global scale. “We are rapidly shifting to conducting a variety of online connection activities with dozens of key and emerging markets for Vietnamese agricultural products as soon as the pandemic subsides,” Phu stated.

Some of Hai Duong’s businesses have already participated in such programmes and have had good experiences with foreign importers.

Vietrade has opened booths within the framework of the National Trade Promotion Programme to provide technical support and guide businesses to successfully join e-commerce platforms through the agency’s presence. From the succeeding experiences from the common booths at trade fairs, training and guidance activities will be implemented synchronously to step-by-step enable businesses and cooperatives to operate their own booths online effectively.

Vietrade has a long-term plan to support Hai Duong through promoting its products online and with direct cooperation, helping them to strengthen trade promotion, expand export partnerships, and develop and maintain new markets.

A series of other activities are also coordinated by the government agency of Hai Duong, including the Department of Industry and Trade and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to support the province to develop its own brands, including for lychees. A training course on instructions on traceability and participation within the National Trade Promotion Programme on e-commerce platforms for 49 cooperatives, businesses, and business households in Hai Duong has brought unexpected results. At the course, the trainers focused on the correct understanding to effectively implement traceability activities for Thanh Ha’s lychees and other agricultural products of Hai Duong. Vietrade’s staff has been guiding producers on how to input data for many months, ensuring transparency in the information. The agency also guides businesses and cooperatives to successfully participate in e-commerce activities and foster sales in the domestic and export markets.

Besides Vietrade’s efforts, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Protection Department has officially been authorised by Japanese authorities to supervise the process of disinfecting lychee batches for export to the Japanese market, instead of sending Japanese experts to Vietnam. The advantage for local producers is that they will not depend on foreign experts anymore to ensure compliance with Japanese regulations. In addition, shipping quantity can be increased while significantly reducing time, costs, and number of required shipments.

Hai Duong currently has more than 9,000 hectares of lychee plantations, of which over 3,300ha are in Thanh Ha district and more than 3,500ha in Chi Linh district, both with a total output of about 55,000 tonnes. The province currently boasts 45 lychee farming areas with 450ha meeting GlobalGAP standards and 6,300ha planted according to VietGAP standards.

By Van Nguyen

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