Taipei-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 (???), 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.
The project is highly anticipated by Australia as well, said Catherine Raper, representative of the Australian Office in Taipei.
The program has just won TARI an award from Queensland at the Australia-Taiwan Business Awards presented earlier this month, she said.
"You can use one marcot to grow lots of others from it," Raper told CNA earlier this week, referring to a graft plant used to propagate other plants. "So this is like the beginning."
The partnership with Taiwan complements Australia's own national interests, Raper said, noting that it is also the first time Australia has launched this type of agricultural cooperation with other countries.
"There will be Taiwanese varieties grown in Queensland, Australia, and then exported to Southeast Asia," Raper said. "So this grows Taiwan's export capacity and ensures that there is year-round supply to the market."
According to TARI, Taiwan grows about 90,000 tons of lychees a year, mostly from May to July. While they cost around NT$40 (US$1.30) per kilogram at the retail level in Taiwan, they can cost around NT$100 per kilo in other countries, presenting a good export opportunity for Taiwanese producers of the fruit.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel