Agricultural products exporting by sea is not easy
Large refrigerated container demand
According to Mr. Le Thanh Tung, Deputy Director of the Department of Crop Production, this January, Binh Thuan, Long An, and Tien Giang provinces will have a total of 106,800 tonnes of dragon fruit harvested. The export quantity is 54,400 tonnes, only by sea is approximately 34,000 tonnes, accounting for 32% of total output, and demand for 40-foot 1,704 refrigerated containers.
In February, the total dragon fruit production of the three provinces was 65,600 tonnes, of which 45,000 tonnes were for export, approximately 33,000 tonnes were exported by sea, requiring 1,661 40-foot cold containers. In the last month of Q1, three provinces harvested 54,000 tonnes of dragon fruit, spending 47,100 tonnes for export with 34,200 tonnes going by sea, needing 40-foot 1,722 refrigerated containers.
Calculating, in the whole first quarter, Binh Thuan, Long An, and Tien Giang provinces harvested 226,400 tonnes of dragon fruit. Of which 147,500 tonnes are for export, 101,216 tonnes are shipped by sea, needing 40-foot 5,087 refrigerated containers.
Thus, the demand for cold containers to export dragon fruit by sea in the first quarter of this year is quite large. Meanwhile, the volume of containers to export refrigerated goods is limited. For example, each week, Cosco shipping line currently only has 350-400 containers for all routes and all cold goods (seafood, vegetables, etc.); CMA shipping line has 250-300 refrigerated containers per week…
The demand for transporting refrigerated goods by sea increases strongly at the end of 2021 and the beginning of this year. According to the Maritime Administration (Ministry of Transport), in November 2021, 1,400 refrigerated containers were going from Ho Chi Minh City to China. In December, this number more than tripled to 4,100 containers.
Switching exports by land to sea is not easy
Switching from export by land to sea is an essential solution in the short and long terms. However, this transition is not easy.
Mr. Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Import-Export Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade), said that dragon fruit importers in Vietnam's provinces hardly want to divert imports by sea because they will have to add a lot of costs to move dragon fruit from seaports into their traditional markets, which are deep in the interior of China.
According to Mr. Nguyen Xuan Sang, Deputy Minister of Transport, whether exported by land or by sea, Vietnamese agricultural products must meet uniform requirements on traceability, quarantine, and food safety when going to China.
However, the reality shows that, although the import procedures are the same, in regular times, customs clearance at the land border gate is usually easier and cheaper than by sea.
On the other hand, although the current seaport infrastructure can meet the needs of sea export, when a large amount of goods is congested by road and transferred to the sea, despite significant efforts, exporting by the sea, This can only partly ensure, especially in the context of China's "Zero Covid" policy.
Solutions to promote exports by sea
Despite many difficulties, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Sang said that in the long term, it is necessary to boost exports to China by sea to reduce congestion at the border, which has often happened for many years.
To promote the export of agricultural products via sea to China and other markets, Mr. Mai Xuan Thin, director of the Red Dragon Company, said that it is necessary to have policies to encourage the development of a fleet of specialized cold-cargo ships, each ship from 3,000-10,000 tonnes so that these ships can enter and receive goods in key export areas of fruit and agricultural products.
There are about 30 foreign shipping lines that transport Vietnamese agricultural products exported by sea to China. For shipping lines to pay more attention to agricultural products, especially agricultural products that need to be refrigerated, some delegates said that it is necessary to have assurance from Vietnam about the volume of goods shipped weekly, monthly.
Thereby, Vietnam will establish a regular and professional sea transportation system for Vietnamese agricultural products in the long term. It is what banana exporters have done.
To maintain and promote agricultural exports to China, there needs to be a drastic change in thinking from state management agencies at all levels, to associations, businesses, and farmers, from production to export.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam emphasized that, in the face of difficulties and bottlenecks in exporting agricultural products by road, it is necessary to create a mechanism to promote more favorable sea-borne exports, not only to China but also other markets.
In recent years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has also stepped up the implementation of many solutions, including the issuance of planting area codes. For dragon fruit exported to China alone, 89% have been granted a planting area code.
According to Mr. Le Thanh Tung, Deputy Director of the Department of Crop Production, Binh Thuan, Long An, and Tien Giang provinces are the main localities spreading the dragon fruit crop. Therefore, it is necessary to review the situation of planting crops in the area and regularly update the exports to the Chinese market to flexibly direct the area and output of dragon fruit in January and February 2022. If the export market continues to face difficulties, farmers must reduce the spreading planting area in January and February 2022.
For provinces that do not have the conditions to spread a good crop with dragon fruit (lack of electricity, technical conditions, etc.), if export continues to face difficulties, the Department of Crop Production recommends farmers to reduce the area or not to spread the crop in January, February 2022 to avoid damage when not consumed.
Author: VAN's reporter
Translated by Ha Phuc
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