Hung Yen’s farmers are proud of Hung Yen longan, the ‘fruit of the King’ which satisfies strict requirements on food safety and is exported to many countries, bringing revenue of trillions of dong a year.
On the days of the sixth month of lunar calendar, along the embankment on the left side of the Red River to Pho Hien, one can see rows of green longan plants full of fruit. The alluvium of the Red and Luoc Rivers annually enriches the soil which creates the sweetness of Hung Yen’s longan.
Asked when longan plants first appeared in Hung Yen, the old men in the ‘Kingdom of Longan’ all shook their heads and said they saw longan in their gardens when they were young. Hung Yen has become a large longan merchandise area which can produce tens of thousands of tons a year.
Some locals said they had heard that longan was known in the 16th century. At Hien Pagoda, one can see a 400-year-old longan tree, which is green all year round and heavy with fruit every season.
In the 11th year of Minh Mang Dynasty, Hung Yen prople chose longan as the fruit speciality to offer to the King. Since then, longan has been called the ‘fruit of the King’.
The specialty was not only famous in the country, but also became a special commodity, which followed the footsteps of traders to Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries.
According to Chair of Hung Yen province Nguyen Van Phong, the provincial authorities attach much importance to preserving the precious genes of longan. Local agencies have selected about 400 best trees meeting quality standards for conservation and multiplication to develop the valuable fruit.
|Hung Yen’s farmers are proud of Hung Yen longan, the ‘fruit of the King’ which satisfies strict requirements on food safety and is exported to many countries, bringing revenue of trillions of dong a year.|
Nguyen Van Phi from Bao Tien Longan Cooperative, who was present at the trade fair to promote Hung Yen longan held on the last days of July, said the cooperative has 11.2 hectares of longan growing area and cultivates according to VietGap standards to create clean products.
Phi said he has been growing longan for tens of years. About 30-35 years ago, longan was very expensive: the money from selling one tree was enough to buy 10 kilograms of rice. However, at that time, the yield was low because of the lack of technology.
Now, longan is cheaper, but the yield is 3-4 times higher, and consumers believe in the quality of clean longan. When growing longan under VietGap standards, farmers must not use stimulants and toxic chemicals.
According to Nguyen Van Trang, deputy director of the Hung Yen Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, there are 4,845 hectares of longan growing area in the province.
In 2017, the provincial authorities gave financial support to farmers in Hong Nam and Ham Tu to shift to farming with VietGap standards. In the same year, 62 hectares of longan growing area were granted VietGap certificates.
Encouraged by the higher economic value of VietGap longan, the province has added 2,000 more hectares of VietGap growing area, while the area with VietGap certificates has reached 750 hectares.
In recent years, Hung Yen provincial authorities and cooperatives have been taking full advantage of every opportunity to promote sales. Market days and longan weeks are organized in many localities, including Hanoi, in longan season to introduce the local specialty.
In 2020, in addition to the Hung Yen Longan Festival organized in the province, three longan weeks in Hanoi in August were scheduled.
Director of the Hung Yen provincial Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Van Tho said Hung Yen longan not only sells at wholesale markets throughout the country, but also at large supermarkets such as Big C, Co-op Mart and Hapro in recent years.
Hung Yen farmers have also boosted exports. Besides the loyal market of China, the fruit was exported to the US, Japan, Germany and Australia in 2018. Exports now account for 25 percent of the province’s total output.
After many years of preservation and development, the ‘fruit of the King’, listed among the 50 most delicious fruits of Vietnam, can bring revenue of trillions of dong to Hung Yen farmers every year.
Hung Yen has a bumper longan crop this year with estimated output of 50,000 tons, which will bring revenue of VND1.2 trillion. Longan farmers can earn VND250-300 million a year for every hectare of cultivation.
The loyal Chinese market has restricted the import of Vietnam’s fruits, while exports to the US are stuck because of Covid-19.
Big C has reported a 67 percent increase in the number of transactions during the Covid-19 period, while Vinmart saw a 30 percent and Co-opmart 16 percent increase.