Madagascan lychee growers are hopeful that good climatic conditions and a concerted effort by the sector to implement and harmonise good agricultural practices will lead to a successful season this year.
The 2011/12 season is set to kick off at the end of November, with growers expressing confidence that the quality of the crop will be particularly high this season due to timely rainfall and sunshine.
Quality should be further improved by a series of measures supported by the Madagascan authorities to ensure compliance with European regulations.
Nicolas Morinière, managing director of importer Univeg Katope France, commented: "Feedback from the last season was useful. On the production side, the outlook is encouraging; both rain and sun came just at the right time and we should receive top-quality fruit."
In addition, through the PIP programme, producer association COLEACP has supported the Madagascan industry in the development of a Self-Assessment Guide to assist exporters at all stages, from harvesting to shipping.
Christophe Andreas, technical director for the Tamatave Technical Horticultural Centre (CTHT), which helped draft the guide, said: "The self-assessment guide is a real plus for the sector because it enables each company to conduct internal control of its procedures, and detect in good time any potential problems that could put products at risk. Companies can also take the necessary measures to ensure that products unsuitable for sale are not put onto the market."
Narson Rafidimanana, chairman of the Lychee Exporters Group (GEL), believes that everyone in the chain stands to benefit from the guide, from the grower to the consumer.
"The guide is available at just the right time," he said. "It is a guide to good practices that formally engages all operators wishing to export to Europe."
Madagascar remains the largest exporter of lychees to the European market, shipping approximately 20,000 tonnes between December and January.