Dragon fruit area in China's Hainan and Guangxi provinces has reached 20,000 hectares so far and China plans to expand it to 30,000 hectares by 2020, he added.
According to Mr. Cuong, Vietnam has grown dragon fruits according to advantages in natural conditions. Sunshine and sand in Binh Thuan province make dragon fruits sweeter than in other places.
However he still asked farmers and businesses to change their production, management methods and increase processing.
Binh Thuan province has 27,000 hectares of dragon fruits without any processing plant. Mr. Cuong emphasized the need of building a processing plant in the province to increase added value for the fruit.
In addition, he urged trade promotion to expand market, promote official exports, gradually limit and abolish cross-border export.
Yesterday, Mr. Cuong rejected press information that dragon fruit price has drastically dropped in the southern and central regions of Vietnam because China has stopped buying.
Mr. Cuong affirmed that the ministry had required Plant Protection Department to verify the information at northern border gates. The department’s delegation arrived at the border gates and found trading and export activities progress normally.
The minister said that dragon fruit is a high value fruit. Vietnam now has 52,000 hectares and exports VND1.5 million tons a year to yield US$1 billion. China is still the main market accounting for 80 percent of Vietnam’s export output.
There are two harvest seasons of the fruit, one from April to September when the plants bear fruits naturally with high yield. Another unseasonable crop is from October to March when growers must switch on the light for the plants to flower. The economic efficiency of the later is very high.
Farmers traditionally cut crop-end flowers and let the plants rest for a month before lighting up in November for the unseasonable crop. This year, it was much rainy in July and August causing the number of flowers highly increase.
The flower increase in combination with high dragon fruit price for the last two years sent farmers not to cut flowers as usual, so output quickly increased.
Still fruits quality is not good and they are not eye catching because of crop-end flowers so consumption has reduced.
Annually, China enters its big holiday in October when all trading activities slow down so import volume reduces. After the week long holiday this year, trading and import activities have been back to normal.