The avocado industry in the central highlands province of Dak Nong has taken a first step towards potential markets thanks to the first co-investment funding model between the province, the New Zealand G2G Partnerships Office, Plant and Food Research, and SAM Agritech, which was signed on July 20.

The three-year technical assistance project creates a solid foundation for Dak Nong’s avocado industry and aims to improve productivity in and the quality of fresh and processed high-value avocados, including Hass avocado.

Vietnam has a diverse range of avocado varieties from different sources, but most are non-standard and West Indian “green-skin” types.

Such local varieties are great for domestic and regional exports but the potential for local varieties in high-value international markets is low, given the fact that Hass avocado is the most popular and accounts for 80 per cent of avocados consumed globally.

Similar to Vietnam, agriculture and food are crucial to New Zealand’s economy and more than 80 per cent of its total agricultural production is now exported, according to Consul General to Vietnam Ms. Karlene Davis.

New Zealand exported $155.5 million worth of avocados last year, to markets such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand, exceeding the record of $103 million set in 2014.

To reach this point, the country invested heavily in food safety and quality control, productivity, and distribution. “As a result, we have developed world-leading expertise, which we believe will be relevant as Dak Nong grows its own avocado value chain,” said Ms. Davis.

Plant & Food Research has deep expertise and offers innovative solutions in high-tech agriculture and combined with SAM Agritech’s knowledge of local markets will increase demand in domestic and export markets for quality avocado and value-added products such as avocado oil.

“There will be huge opportunities for Dak Nong’s avocado industry as a result of this innovative partnership,” said Dr. Emmet McElhatton, Commercial Manager at the New Zealand G2G Partnerships Office. “This is the first time New Zealand and Vietnam have signed this type of co-investment funding model.”

The new model is being delivered as part of a memorandum of understanding signed between the New Zealand G2G Partnerships Office, Plant and Food Research, SAM Agritech, and the Dak Nong Provincial People’s Committee during Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to New Zealand last March.

Vietnamese avocados are primarily grown in the central highlands, with a key focus on Dak Nong and Dak Lak provinces, with the former having a total growing area of around 2,600 ha, or one-fifth of its total fruit growing area.

Its average annual yield stands at 10-15 tonnes per hectare. With prices remaining high in recent years, one hectare can fetch around VND300-500 million ($13,000-$21,700) a year.

Avocado is also helping eradicate hunger and poverty, with some farmers even growing wealthy.