The lychee season in Madagascar has started already, and growers are confident that this year's crop will have a good quality. They'll look to capitalize on that good crop by maintaining traditional market and expanding their presence in one new market.
“We expect good quality because the weather is permitting us to have that quality,” said Simon Rakotondrahova of SCRIMAD. “The season started on November 17, and we will export about 17,000 tons.” While that may seem like a large number, it's only a fifth of the country's total lychee production. For that reason, Rakotondrahova believes there's potential to reach beyond the markets they currently ship to.
“France and Germany take about 90 percent of the lychee we export,” explained Rakotondrahova. “We've been exporting to Dubai and the Middle East for seven years now, but it's still a developing market for us.” While increased marketing efforts might pay dividends in the Middle East, the island's growers had to make more fundamental changes in order to have access to European countries.
Back in 2008, there was trouble with the amount of sulfur residue found on lychee sent to Germany. Because of that, Madagascar's growers have worked on production and packing methods that reduce the amount of residue left on exported fruit. Starting to use techniques developed in India, SCRIMAD's growers can now export their fruit free of any sulfur residue.
“These sulfur problems are now a thing of the past,” said Rakotondrahova. “Madagascar lychee meets all European Union requirements on residues, and sulfur-free treatments will allow us to go into new markets, like the United States, where fruit treated with sulfur is banned.”
Current prices across Europe for Madagascar lychee range from between 17.000 000 euro and 20 400 000 . Returns for growers could improve, noted Rakotondrahova, if the island's growers continue their efforts to reach out to new markets and improve their production techniques.
“Most important for us is to develop new markets,” said Rakotondrahova. “The potential in Madagascar is more than the capacity that can currently handle our fruit, so I'm sure Madagascar has to first develop new markets. But we also have to improve the approach to growing, because we've had problems with size of fruit, so we can improve both on size and quality."
Simon A. Rakotondrahova
Author: Carlos Nunez / Yzza Ibrahim