Written by Mekong Institute
Longan is the third important crop in Pailin province, after cassava and maize. It has a high growth potential in the years to come. The production area has shown a steady growth over the past five years with annual production output increasing respectively.
In 2012, the total planted area was 425 ha with a production of about 1, 000 tons. Recently, longan producers can receive a considerably higher profit if compared to other crops and they have been able to enjoy fruit-bearing trees in different seasons to secure a higher market price. However, there are many problems in longan production and marketing. To understand the overall situation clearly, value chain mapping and analysis including supply chain were conducted. To identify issues and constraints along the chain faced by value chain actors have been identified and recommend upgrading strategies. Three approaches were employed in data collection namely the structured interviews, key informant interviews and focal group discussions (FGD). The structured interview was conducted mainly with actors in the value chain using a questionnaire developed for each actor. The key informant interviews were conducted with value chain supporters while FGD was used to understand the role of gender in longan cultivation such as labor division, financial decision-making, livelihood strategies, and constraints and issues in longan production.
The core processes of longan value chain in Pailin province is comprised of input provision, production, collection and retailing. There are approximately 165 households growing longan, 60% of which are large privately owned farms of up to 10 ha while the remaining 40% of farms lie between 1 to 1.5 ha. To obtain higher price, farmers use chemical treatments to induce flowering of longan and make the fruit ripe for high demand seasons. It takes about six months from flowering to fruit development, so harvesting is done between 5.5-6.0 months after blooming. Approximately 60% of fresh longan is supplied to domestic markets whereas remaining 40% is collected by Thai buyers through negotiation with the longan farmer cooperative. Thai buyers use Thai quality standards for longan by grading the fruits into three grades, namely A (55-75 fruits/kg or 14-18g/fruit), B (76-80 fruits/kg or 12.5-13.2g/fruit) and grade C which consists of more than 80 fruits per kg. The latter grade encompasses most small fruited seedless types and does not meet export market requirements. There is no existing quality standard for longan in Cambodia and the domestic markets for fresh longan do not require standards.
The relationships between the different actors within the longan value chain and the farmer cooperative is quite dynamic in developing efficient channels to get the product grown and marketed. However, there is little or almost no relationship between actors and government agencies because the development of longan research, education and extension services are weak and there is no effective mechanism to foster these links.
The relationship among farmers is seen in the form of exchanging the production knowledge and agricultural inputs. There is no relationship among collectors while there are some linkages between farmers and collectors or between farmers and exporters in terms of doing supply agreements or providing credits.
The major costs in longan production consist of installing irrigation systems planting, plant husbandry and induced flowering on bearing plants. The basic investment cost including installed irrigation, seedling and land constitute 42% of total production cost in three years. Plant husbandry consists of water management, fertilization, weeding, and pruning. The cost and margin analysis suggests that the cost and net profit are shared more by farmers and retailers although farmers incur the highest percentage of added unit cost.
Farmers have been using advanced cultural practices as well as off-season cultivars for higher productivity, quality and profitability. Some farmers are very experienced in cultivation of longan. Despite some success, farmers have experienced a number of problems such as non bearing-trees, high mortality rate of seedlings, adverse weather conditions, price instability, and large proportion of fruits not meeting quality standards for export market, trade facilitation issues at border, and so on. Nevertheless, farmers remain optimistic as the demand for high quality fruit remains high, especially in the export market. Hence, future intervention should be focused on improving productivityand promoting high quality of longan.