Madagascar Farmers to Export Fewer Lychees in 2010 as Less Rain Cuts Size

Madagascar, the biggest source of lychee imports by Europe, will export 8.8 percent less of the tropical fruit this year as reduced rainfall cut the size of the fruits, the growers’ association said.

Madagascar will export 18,250 metric tons of this year’s harvest, Narison Rafidimanana, head of the country’s Lychee Growers’ Association, said in a telephone today from the capital, Antananarivo. That compares with an annual average of 20,000 tons, he said.

The association of 32 growers, which represents 90 percent of Madagascar’s lychee producers, exported 17,500 tons of the fruit to Europe this year as it prioritized “quality rather than quantity,” he said. “Some fruits are smaller due to less rain but it’s not catastrophic,” Radifimanana said of this year’s month-long harvest.

The Indian Ocean island nation, whose harvest is estimated at 100,000 tons to 120,000 tons annually, is expected to produce 120,000 tons of the tropical fruit this year, Rafidimanana said.

Imports of lychees from the southern Indian Ocean region represent around 80 percent of total annual imports to Europe, with Madagascar holding around 70 percent of the market, the European Commission said on its website. Late rains will delay the season by two weeks, Commerce Minister Freddie Mahazoasy said on Nov. 25.

The industry needs to improve administration and promotion to prevent 80 percent of the nation’s lychee output from going to waste, Mahazoasy said. Madagascar is working toward exporting the fruit to the U.S., whose Food and Drug Administration didn’t accept Madagascar’s cultivation process, he said.

Lychees sell for 700 ariary ($0.34) a kilogram (2.2 pounds), Radifimanana said, declining to provide an estimate for how much the industry was worth annually. but could not give an estimate on how much the industry was worth per year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hannah McNeish in Antananarivo via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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