Agricultural Sector Shows Stronger Production Growth13 August 2012
VIET NAM - Agricultural production has continued to grow steadily over the past seven months, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
The market for agro-forestry and fishery products is now showing signs of bouncing back in the remaining months of this year.
The current biggest challenge facing the sector is the market slowdown. Global economic doldrums have adversely affected Viet Nam’s major export markets such as the US, the EU and Japan.
The sector is also still confronted with other challenges including poor food safety and hygiene standards, deforestation and forest fires, slow economic restructuring and the threat of livestock and plant diseases, as well as a lack of funding and falling prices for many key products.
However, Head of the Plantation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Nguyen Tri Ngoc, says rice production will develop in a new way aimed at protecting farmers’ interests.
In July alone, more than 23,000 hectares of summer-autumn rice were under cultivation, equivalent to around 103 percent in the same period last year. Mekong Delta provinces harvested 600,000 hectares of early summer-autumn rice, equivalent to more than 84 per cent of the figure for the previous corresponding period.
Many localities are now harvesting shrimp and July’s harvest reached approximately 91,800 tonnes, eight per cent more than July 2011.
Coffee, cashew nut and pepper exports are expected to pick up in the remaining months of this year, thanks to greater demand from the US, German and Chinese markets.
According to the MARD, total export turnover for agricultural, forestry and fishery products in the first seven months of this year is estimated at US$15.9 billion, up 12.4 per cent over the same period last year.
The export value of agricultural products this year has hit US$8.9 billion (up 9.1 per cent), seafood US$3.4 billion (up 6.5 per cent) and forestry products US$2.7 billion (up 21.6 per cent).
Nguyen Viet Chien, Director of the MARD Information and Statistics Centre, says that in the reviewed period, Vietnam exported 4.6 million tonnes of rice and 1.2 million tonnes of coffee, earning US$2.1 billion and US$ 2.5 billion, respectively.
Most notably, cashew nut exports rose more than 36 per cent, reaching 120,000 tonnes worth US$ 828 million.
These are all positive signs as 2012 was chosen as the year to focus on food quality, hygiene and safety to address major social issues and meet the stricter demands of import markets.
The MARD has also worked out a plan to promote steady and healthy trade links with China.
It will work with Chinese agricultural experts and agencies to set up official transaction channels to facilitate business operations, establish processes for plant and animal quarantines and protect quality control for agro-forestry and fishery products.
The MARD will reconsider trade promotion programmes and adjust production accordingly to help farmers and businesses choose the best plants and animals to raise.
The MARD has also asked the Government to adopt policies to support livestock breeding and seafood production.
In addition, commercial banks have been urged to create the best possible conditions for agricultural businesses to access preferential loans at low interest rates more easily.
For the seafood sector, the Ministry has stressed the need to enforce strict controls to ensure food safety as regulated by importing countries.
To date, major importers such as the US and the EU have raised no serious issues regarding the use of chemicals and antibiotics in Vietnamese seafood products.
The MARD has also asked Japan to consider accepting the proper use of antibiotic chemicals as stipulated by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) - an international body that sets food standards - to ensure food safety and maintain the two-way trade exchange between Viet Nam and Japan./.