Griffith University has been helping farmers and co-operatives in Binh Thuan Province train for export expansion to Australia.

The province has historically concentrated on the export and distribution of dragon fruit across South-East Asia, but key stakeholders are now looking to expand to wholesalers and supermarkets in Melbourne, Australia.

Associate Professor Robin E Roberts, from the Griffith Asia Institute, is leading the initiative by delivering training that focuses on key concepts such as understanding demand, consumer buying behaviours, supply chain development and export entry protocols.

Associate Professor Robin E Roberts

The program provides practical training, with activities designed specifically to assist the Binh Thuan traders to supply Australian export markets. Associate Professor Roberts discusses the economic, social, and environmental considerations and draws on her agribusiness expertise to help build the capacity of the local stakeholders and improve their development skills.

“Vietnamese dragon fruit production is embedded in Binh Thuan’s cultural and economic history,” Associate Professor Roberts said.

“The locals tell the story of Hoang Tu Canh, a crown prince who led the province from a nearby citadel in the late 1700’s. When fresh produce was in short supply, the Binh Thuan people shared their local fruits to help sustain the army against the dragons of the East. The prince acknowledged their generosity and bestowed the name dragon fruit in their honour.

“Despite the historic connection to dragon fruit, production of the fruit in Binh Thuan province only emerged in the 1970’s. But the increased production, combined with the opening of the country to foreign tourists, has meant that the fruit has been in high demand ever since.

Robin E Roberts with dragon fruit growers and traders in Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan Province

“Dragon fruit is already extremely popular in Vietnam but what we’re hoping, by helping the Binh Thuan exporters through these programs, is that the Australian consumers will have more opportunity to fall in love with the fruit too.”

Associate Professor Roberts is eager to continue her collaboration with farmers and co-operatives in the province, with the intention to one day expand the program to include the export of other tropical fruits such as mango and passion fruit.