Lychees sell for NT$230,000 at mainland auction

The China Post staff

Some lychees produced in the Tzengcheng area of Guangdong Province in southern mainland China commanded record high prices at an auction on Thursday, but agricultural experts in Taiwan asserted that the mainland products simply cannot compare with lychees grown in Taiwan. Lychee (litchi), a popular summer fruit grown in southern China and Taiwan, has a brittle shell with a sweet, jellylike pulp and a single seed. Some lychees belonging to a special species with green stripes on the shells grown in Tzengcheng were sold for between NT$230,000 and NT$83,000 a piece at the auction, according to press reports in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province. A researcher at the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday in Taipei that the extremely expensive Tzengcheng lychees come from old lychee trees, with the oldest one aged over 400 years.

But farmers in Taiwan have been grown lychees transplanted from the Chinese mainland for over 200 years. The lychee trees in Taiwan average about 50 years in age, although some lychee trees on the island are now over 100 years old. Due to the unique environment in central and southern Taiwan as well as constantly improving agricultural techniques, the COA researcher said, lychees grown in Taiwan excel in both taste and nutrition as compared with the prohibitively expensive fruit grown in southern China. Top quality lychees from Taiwan are now sold for between NT$120 to NT$360 per tael (0.6 kilogram) at retail prices, much cheaper than the products in mainland China. The researcher said smart consumers should consume more lychees from Taiwan. The COA has started assisting farmers’ associations in Taiwan promote the sale of Taiwan fruit to Singapore and the mainland as part of the campaign to develop new overseas markets. New markets will be needed for Taiwan fruit since they will face stiffer competition from imported fruits on the domestic market after Taiwan joins the World Trade Organization.