Taiwan & Australia partner to grow lychees year-round

Taiwan and Australia are joining hands to grow high-quality lychees year-round, a move expected to add value to the tropical fruit for which Taiwan possesses advanced cultivation techniques, an agricultural official told CNA on Friday.

The idea is to take advantage of the juxtaposed climates in the two countries to extend the short lychee production season, which has led to an imbalance between supply and demand, said Chang Jer-way (張哲瑋), senior horticulturist at the Chiayi Agricultural Experiment Branch under the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI).

Under a memorandum of understanding signed last year with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the institute sent four varieties of baby lychee plants to Australia in September, and they are currently under quarantine in Canberra.

After remaining in quarantine for a year, the lychees will be transplanted in Queensland, which has a weather pattern highly similar to that of southern Taiwan, where lychees are grown, Chang said.

"We hope to create a year-round supply chain of Taiwanese lychees through the cooperation with a country in the Southern Hemisphere and perhaps apply that model to other fruits," Chang said.

This is the first time that Taiwan has experimented with this business model in fruit production, and if the partnership works out, Taiwan could profit through royalties and elevate its global profile as a high-quality lychee exporter, according to Chang.

The four varieties being tested in Australia are strains of Tainung No. 3, 4, 5 and 7, known as "Rose Red," "Lucky," "Ruby" and "Early Big," respectively.

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