Longan on October 27 became the third Cambodian fruit to be officially exported directly to China in fresh form, after bananas and mangoes, following months of inspections and preparations.
This was the first day the Cambodian government authorised the direct export of fresh longan to China, more than a month after Beijing gave the final all-clear.
The historic moment was commemorated in a ceremony held at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, attended by newly-minted minister Dith Tina, Chinese ambassador Wang Wentian, leaders of relevant ministries and institutions, representatives of the longan community, exporters and plantation owners.
Longan – also known by the botanical name Dimocarpus longan – is a tropical evergreen tree species native to Asia that produces white-fleshed edible fruit of the soapberry family, which also includes lychees and rambutan. The most renowned variety is the Pailin longan, named after Cambodia’s second smallest province by area, which borders Chanthaburi and Trat in Thailand.
The soapberry – whose name derives from “dragon eye” as used in different varieties of Chinese – is typically harvested from August to end-December each year, with peak season in November, according to the Pailin Longan Association (PLA).
Speaking at the ceremony, the agriculture minister confirmed that eight companies have received official authorisation to export longan to China and package the fruit to ship there.
To recall, Chinese authorities in general only consider a single fresh fruit per country at a time to import. With the first official batches of longan sailing away from Cambodian shores, an official decision on the fourth fruit to export to China has yet to be made.
Nonetheless, Tina did mention potential contenders to present to Beijing for formal negotiations, such as peppercorn, fragrant coconuts, durian, pineapple, jackfruit and lotus seeds. He also noted that edible bird’s nest, a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, could also be on the table for export talks.
Although a list of which of the eight companies exported the fruit on the first day was not immediately available, one of these was China Jinkwoayuan Import Export (Cambodia) Co Ltd, confirmed a representative who declined to be named.
He affirmed that a total of 13 containers loaded with 26 tonnes of longan each would be shipped from Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on October 27-28, and take five days to reach Guangzhou.
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Author: Hin Pisei
Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Publication date: 27 October 2022