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Vietnam's banana industry held back from its true potential

Banana prices have seen sharp increases in the last 30 years, with an estimated market value of $15 billion per year. Though prices fluctuate all the time, in general they are on the rise, from $300 per ton in 1980s to $1,100 per ton in 2012.

At Hoang Anh Gia Lai shareholders’ meeting, president Doan Nguyen Duc said one hectare of bananas brings revenue of VND1.9 billion. However, despite the great potential, Vietnam still cannot develop an effective banana industry.

Banana have one of the largest fruit growing areas in Vietnam, accounting for 19 percent of total fruit-tree cultivation, and the highest output, about 1.4 million tons a year. However, banana has never been considered a key fruit tree and has never been included in local fruit development plans.

The Manila Times last year quoted experts saying that Vietnam may become a big rival for the Philippines’ banana industry. However, Vietnam will need to industrialise banana production. It needs to start the process by developing varieties favoured in international markets instead of some traditional varieties. 

An expert said that it is necessary to improve varieties to create products with high yield which can be preserved for long shipping time. It is estimated that 30 percent of bananas going to the EU market are refused because of the lack of aesthetics. Therefore, there must be officers in charge of ensuring quality control in all phases of the production chain, including cultivation, harvesting, cleaning, labeling and packing.

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