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Double Harvest, Less Fruit Profits

Fruit growers in South China have been heavily hit by a sharp lychee price decrease as the yields are expected to be double that of a normal year.

"On average, the lychee price per kilogram has fallen by half to two-thirds compared to last year," an anonymous agricultural official with the coastal Guangdong Province said.

Guangdong and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in South China are the most suitable places for growing the tropical fruit.

The sharp price cut has rippled through to Beijing's fruit markets.

"Last year, it was 16-20 yuan (US$1.8-2.4) for 1 kilogram but now it is priced at 8 yuan (US$0.9)," a salesman in Xidan Supermarket said.

"The cut is sharp and ordinary buyers can afford the fruit which once was considered a costly commodity ," said the salesman surnamed Zhao.

In Guangxi, this year's output of lychee is forecasted to rise from 180,000 tons in 2001 to 340,000 tons because of favourable weather and much fewer insect pests.

The output of Guangdong will double last year's 430,000 tons.

An agricultural official in coastal Guangdong, who declined to be named, is concerned about the possible income decrease of fruit growers.

The official said the provincial agricultural authorities are busy seeking more overseas markets for lychee.

Southeast Asian countries, as well as Japan and South Korea, are the province's lychee trade partners.

"We are trying to export more to the United States," said the official. "But long-term freezing and keeping the fruit fresh are still problems for us," said the official.

An official in Guangxi, however, is not so worried.

"I think the price decrease is rational and acceptable," Li De'an, a fruit official with the autonomous region told China Daily.

"The lower the price is, the more buyers will come to markets," said Li. "In all, the income of fruit growers will not fall too much because the output has been doubled."

Li said Guangxi authorities are urging the growers to dry and can part of their lychee.

"Lychee processing is another choice for us," he said.

But Li admitted that lychee imported from Viet Nam through border cities has exacerbated the price slide in the region.

( China Daily June 21, 2002 )

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