In April, more than 995,000 tons of durian, mangosteen, rambutan and langsat are either waiting to enter the domestic market or be exported but lockdowns are hampering logistics and threatening the quality of these fruits.
The demand for fruits, especially for durian and mangosteen in China, is still there despite the outbreak but Thai producers and exporters are finding it difficult to export products. Many other types of fruit are also rotting away in containers during this lockdown.
With export becoming more difficult due to the curfew, strict checkpoints throughout the country and the screening process on international exports, domestic consumption is the answer. Processing the fruits and selling it online is an option farmers are using to ensure their produce do not go to waste this season.
However, logistical issues are not exclusive to international exports but they also exist within the capital. For example, leading delivery service Kerry Express Thailand announced on Wednesday they will temporarily stop the delivery of fresh food and fruits as the increased checkpoints have led to delays.
With exports and online delivery of fruits being disrupted, the Thai government has come up with five measures to ensure the produce do not rot as more fruits pour into the domestic market.
“Some provinces are in a complete lockdown which is making it hard to deliver fruits to them, with screening checkpoints and drivers are under quarantine,” Sansern Samalapa, vice-minister of commerce, said after the ministry’s meeting on the issue on Thursday.
“Exporting has to go through a screening process and 14 days of quarantine. Sending the fruits along with passenger planes is no longer an option as most flights have cancelled,” he added.
The measures to help farmers include the relaxation of workers’ mobility between districts, the monitoring of prices within the country, the encouragement of direct trading between farmers and sellers, and the connection between outputs, processed factories and stores.
For domestic market measures, the ministry will support the price of fruit delivery with help from Thailand Post, where 200 tons of fruits will be delivered for free. There will be a push towards online selling and promotion of fruit consumption within the country.
For exports, the ministry will match online businesses with buyers, importers and Thai businesses, as well as arrange for fruit caravans to sell products to neighboring countries and create more online promotion of Thai fruits.
The ministry also has measures to find soft loans for Thai businesses within the fruit producing and processing industries with an interest rate of 3 per cent for ten months and 3 per cent for six months for exporters.
They are also looking for ways to lower the cost of exporting 10,000 tons of fruit products by 3 baht per kilogram. The last measure involves the promotion of single standard for export to China to prevent double quality screening.
In 2019, Thailand exported more than US$3.95 billion worth of fresh and frozen fruits.
Thai Health Promotion Foundation also said on Friday that eating lots of vegetables and seasonal fruits by up to 400 grams per day will increase your immune system and it could help fight off the coronavirus infection.
So it’s time for us all to start eating fruits to stay healthy during these uncertain times and to help our local farmers.