With plantations yielding nearly 20,000 tonnes of the fruit per year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has announced its intention to expand longan exports to new countries.
According to officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, only the provinces of Pailin and Battambang, which share a border with Thailand, now export the fruit.
To prepare for shipping the fruit overseas in greater numbers, the Ministry of Agriculture is now working on certain export requirements, according to Hean Vanhan, the director-general of the General Directorate of Agriculture.
“The General Directorate of Agriculture is now working on meeting sanitary and phytosanitary requirements to ready the product for exportation,” Mr Vanhan said on his personal Facebook page yesterday.
Longan farms occupy 8,816 hectares across the country, located mostly in 10 main provinces, with Battambang and Pailin accounting for nearly 80 percent of total land taken up by longan plantations.
Most longan produced in the country is consumed domestically. The fruit is imported from neighbouring countries when local supply is insufficient, especially when it is not harvest season, according to a representative of the General Department of Agriculture.
Bun Tunsimona, the director of Kandal’s agriculture department, a province with 136 hectares of longan farms, said the number of longan plantations have remained stagnant in recent years because the crop is not as attractive as other fruit.
“We have never exported longan in Kandal province, but if we had international buyers, farmers will surely increase their production and expand their farms,” Mr Tunsimona said.
Chan Rithy, the director of Kampot’s agriculture department, welcomed the announcement, saying that focusing on exports can help popularise the fruit among local growers.
“Farmers now prefer to grow other fruit like mango over longan because they can be grown all year round and have a bigger market,” Mr Rithy said.
The longan – known in Cantonese as ‘dragon eye’ – resembles an eyeball when its fruit is shelled. The fruit is sweet, juicy and succulent. Other vernacular names of longan include “lam-yai” (Thailand), “mein” (Cambodia), “lam nhai” or “nam nhai” (Laos), “Kyet mouk” (Myanmar) and “nhan” (Vietnam).
Nou Sokunthea, a longan farmer in Koh Krobey, a well-known farming area south of Phnom Penh, said she would increase production if she can sell her produce at an acceptable price.
“I think farmers like me will expand their plantations if there is more demand for our products here and abroad,” she said.