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Durian prices have tripled to VND150,000-VND190,000 ($6.40-$8.10) per kilogram at southern farms as demand from China has risen.
Durian prepared to be exported to China in Tien Giang Province. Photo by VnExpress/Linh Dan
Khang, a durian trader in the southern city of Can Tho, said that he has not been able to buy enough quantity to sell to domestic buyers, as farmers are only willing to sell at high prices.
"In Can Tho, one kilogram costs VND150,000 but there is little supply," said Khang. "This price level is uncommonly high."
Hanh, a trader in Tien Giang who sells to Chinese buyers, said that she has been busy going to farms and paying high rates. She says she is even willing to pay commissions to those who introduce her to new farms.
Local farmers say that durian prices in southern Tien Giang province range from VND120,000 to VND190,000, a triple increase year-on-year.
Traders sell to Chinese buyers at even higher prices, from VND170,000 to VND290,000.
They say that demand from China has surged several times from previous years. Traders need to gather hundreds of tons each day to deliver to China but supply can only meet 30% to 50% of their needs.
Linh in Tien Giang can buy only around 17 tons a day, even though she needs hundreds of tons. "I just pack everything I have and send it to buyers," she said.
In September last year, the first batch of fresh Vietnamese durian was sent to China under an official quota as the two countries agreed on a protocol that allows Vietnamese farmers to grow durian under Chinese standards.
In order to export the fruit, fresh durians need to be grown in areas that are approved by Chinese authorities and need to pass many stringent criteria concerning packaging and quality.
Ngu Hiep Durian Company in Tien Giang, however, said that only a small amount of the fruit meets export standards this season and therefore prices are rising.
As of now Tien Giang has 20,000 hectares of land planted with durian, and 13,000 hectares of the fruit are set to be ripe for harvest soon; this land will produce nearly 300,000 tons.
However, few areas in Tien Giang have been approved by Chinese authorities, and so the province is requesting over 1,000 hectares be made eligible for exports. It hopes to eventually have 50% of its farming area approved by China.
Last year, Vietnam’s durian exports reached nearly $400 million, with $300 million of it bought by China.
The Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association said that Vietnamese durian has advantages over those grown in Thailand and the Philippines for export to China.
Those two countries can only export during certain seasons, while in Vietnam exports can be made all year.
It takes only 1.5 days to transport durian from Vietnam to China and this ensures the freshness of the fruit. Furthermore, Vietnam’s transportation costs are also lower than in those countries.