Farmers, Traders and Food Processors Should Team Up For Mutual Benefit

Some 70% of Viet Nam’s people live in rural areas and these 14.6 million rural households form a big consumer market and are a great source of material supplies, the chairman of the Viet Nam Farmers Association said recently.

Mr. Vu Ngoc Ky told an agriculture development forum that the challenge ahead for farmers was to make their products more competitive.

What’s needed is a shift away from the “private and spontaneous trade and short-lived cooperation” that still characterizes farming here; he told the forum held in Ho Chi Minh City to prepare for when Viet Nam joins the World Trade Organization.

Paying attention to quality

An Orchid farm (Photo: KK)

In recent years several crop-growing areas have been established in rural areas and contributed remarkably to changing the agricultural structure and export leaning.

Among these are orchards and rice-growing areas in the Mekong Delta; coffee, pepper and cashew plantations in the highlands and the southeastern region; and fish farms along the central coast and in the southern region.

Many of the nation’s 100,000 farms are located in these special zones; the newcomers total more than 500,000 hectares in size.

The southeast houses 30% of the total area, and the farms owned partly by residents of Ho Chi Minh City occupy 10% of the total area and average 30-40 hectares/farm.

The biggest obstacles to farming development are low productivity, poor product quality and inconsistent output.

According to Nguyen Lam Vien, general director of Vinamit Trading Co. Ltd, farmers are having a tough time because the State is primarily focused on agricultural expansion and is ignoring distribution.

The problem here is that agricultural traders have adopted slack practices, their purchases are “easy and user-friendly”, but the quality of their goods is poor.

Farmers themselves should pay more attention to product quality and look for alternatives to the current system of commercial transactions and thereby keep post-harvest losses to a minimum.

The role of farming in the times ahead

The presence of these farms has contributed to development and made better use of land in the plains, remote regions and highlands.

In the view of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, these farms have created jobs for local people, promoted changes to the structure of agricultural production and the development of agriculture and aquaculture processing, and mobilized funds from the public.

The government sees the “farming economy” as playing an important role in the agricultural economy and the change from self-sufficiency to commodity-based agriculture.

To integrate into the WTO, farming has four roles to play in Vietnamese agriculture, according to Mr. Le Duy Minh, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Gardening and Farming Association.

These are pioneering the use of science and technology in agriculture, using land and labor efficiently, maximizing the link between production and consumption, and changing the economic structure of livestock and crops in accordance with market demands.

Farmers should band together in an association to better face the challenges ahead, he said.

By Dong Nghi – Translated by Kim Khanh

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