A farmer harvests lychees in Taokeng Village, Maoming City, south China's Guangdong Province on June 28, 2018. (Xinhua)
Fruit purchasers from around the world placed 270 million yuan (39.3 million U.S. dollars) of orders for lychees to be harvested in south China's Guangdong Province, at a fruit fair in the city of Dongguan on Monday.
At the lychee export fair, consulates and businessmen from the United States, Japan, Ukraine, Israel, Greece and Thailand were invited to taste the succulent lychee.
China is the world's biggest lychee grower, producing more than 60 percent of the world's lychee. Guangdong has more than 266,667 hectares of lychee orchards, with an output nearing 1.5 million tonnes in 2018, ranking first in terms of both area and yield in the country.
Greek buyer Themistoklis Mavroedis said at the event that the delicious taste of lychee has conquered European consumer appetites.
"Thanks to advanced preservation and cold chain technology, the export of lychees from Guangdong is thriving in Europe. I'm here to work more closely with the suppliers," he said.
Lychees are difficult to keep fresh. In ancient China, the fruit was a tribute to the imperial family. During the harvest season, relays of horsemen carrying fresh lychee fruit over the long distance to reach the capital were depicted by famous poets to imply the extravagant life of the upper-class.
Lu Yajin, director of Liangtong Risheng Litchi Cooperative in the city of Lianjiang, Guangdong, said the rural cooperative has invited experts from South China Agricultural University to help farmers improve fruit-keeping techniques.
The cooperative exported 1,500 tonnes of lychees last year, earning more than 20 million yuan.
Chen Yaohua, chairman of Guangdong Fu Yi Agricultural Products Co. Ltd., said that traditional method of keeping the fruit fresh relied on low-temperature refrigeration, which although could keep it fresh for 20 days, make it deteriorate faster, within two or three days, after being put on shelves.
He said breakthroughs have been made to lock the fresh fruit's moisture emission and prevent the surface bacterial propagation for 50 days in cold chain, which is long enough to keep it fresh when consumers taste it.
Guangdong took the occasion of the fruit fair to inaugurate the Provincial Agricultural Products Purchasers Alliance and the Lychee Export Alliance to better promote the export of lychees.
Gu Xingwei, director of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said that the platform is for sharing resources and information under the guidance of the country's Belt and Road Initiative.
Guangdong's lychee exports exceeded 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. Exports to the United States, Canada and Europe accounted for 80 percent of the total. Local fruit growers are keen in studying export standardization norms and organic growing methods to supply for high-end markets.