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Lychees stay fresh with help of innovation
Latest Updated by 2006-05-22 11:51:27
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Lychees stay fresh with help of innovation

Technology is helping Guangdong Province's lychee producers enjoy the sweet taste of success.

The key advance has been in the length of time the fruit can stay fresh. In the past, the period has been just three days, but now lychees can retain full flavour up to 40 days after picking, bringing many lucrative markets into play.

To achieve this length of freshness, special attention is now paid during the picking, marinating, cold storage and packaging phases.

"No longer do we throw them directly into a bamboo basket, which causes the bumpy fruits to collide and makes fresh-keeping impossible," said Zhao Jianshe, a fruit farmer from Conghua, a city near Guangzhou.

Ouyang Jianzhong, general manager of Guangzhou Conghua Hualong Fruit and Vegetable Storage Co Ltd, said technology was translating into profits for his company.

"China's lychees can go to world markets far away by sea instead of by air," he said. "With lowered freight costs, the fruit will become more popular abroad."

He said his company aims to export over 1,000 tons of lychees this year, as he has obtained new orders from the European Union, the United States and Australia.

Chinese lychees currently sell at approximately US$10 per kilogram abroad.

Shu Zhaochan, an expert with Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Science's fruit tree research institute, told China Daily that the province began to study lychee freshness technology in the late 1980's, and made big breakthroughs in the mid-90s.

"When lychee fresh-keeping costs are lowered, the fruit will find many more markets at home and abroad," Shu said.

Smaller domestic cities and towns and many developing countries are potential markets, the expert said.

Guangdong Province produces 75 per cent of the nation's total output.

The province's yield is estimated at 1.20 million tons this year, and is expected to rise about 15 per cent year-on-year.

The province exported approximately 3,500 tons in 2005, primarily to developed countries.

However, despite all the advances in packaging and storage technology, picking remains crucial.

"Lychees are very delicate. We have all been trained by experts on how to pick properly," said farmer Zhao Jianshi.

"Gentle picking is the first step in the fresh-keeping process."

Editor: Yan

By: Zhan Lisheng Source: China Daily Website
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