Kaohsiung, May 26 (CNA) A special variety of lychee grown in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung City have been sold in 165 stores run by York Benimaru Co. in Japan and in supermarket chains around Taiwan, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said Saturday.
After visiting a lychee farm owned by Wang Chin-tai, known as the father of the "Jade Purse" variety, Chen said Kaohsiung is the most important growing center of the lychee variety in Taiwan, with 69 percent of the country's harvests being reaped in the southern city's Dashu District.
This year, a total of 2,610 hectares of land in Kaohsiung produced 14,355 tons of the special lychees, an increase of 20 percent compared to last year, Chen said.
In order to prevent a price slump due to a supply glut, the government will hold a series of events to assist farmers in marketing the fruit and a fund of NT$5 million (US$168,790) will be provided to sponsor farmers and export businesses, she said.
Exports of the variety so far this year are 10 times greater than last year, according to a Dashu farmers' association.
It added that major export markets include Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines.
In addition, the fruit is expected to gain in popularity in Japan and the city's agriculture bureau plans to have "Jade Purse" lychees on the shelves of over 15,000 7-11 convenience stores in Japan by 2013.
Also Saturday, a fruit festival kicked off in the southern city's Fo Guang Shan area to promote locally grown lychees, pineapples, peaches and plums. The festival will run through June 16.
Meanwhile, another government-sponsored festival is scheduled to be staged June 2 in Dashu to highlight the district's fruit varieties and promote tourism to the area to help improve farmers' livelihoods.
(By Wang Shwu-fen, Nancy Sha and Maia Huang)