Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc yesterday lauded the agriculture sector’s performance in 2016, saying it had made impressive gains in the face of formidable odds including repeated natural disasters and the massive fish deaths in April.
|Farmers harvest maize in northern mountainous Son La Province. The agriculture sector has made impressive gains this year, however, many challenges lie ahead in 2017. (Photo: VNA/VNS)|
Addressing an online year-end conference of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Mr. Phuc said that the nation’s primary industry had continued to be a mainstay of the national economy and contributed to national development although it had been hit hard by several storms and their impacts.
“Natural calamities have caused a loss of about US$1.7 billion to the natural budget, equal to almost 1 percent of the country’s GDP,” he said.
It has been estimated that natural calamities severely damaged 908,000ha of subsidiary crops and destroyed around a million tonnes of rice. In addition, the serious environmental pollution in four central provinces caused by the Formosa toxic spill had strongly impacted fishing and aquaculture.
However, with Government support, the sector has been able to record certain successes. It is projected that in the 2016, export turnover of agriculture, forestry and aquaculture will reach about $32.1 billion – an increase of 5.4 percent against that of 2015, while its trade surplus is estimated to reach $ 7.5 billion. All in all, GDP for the whole sector will increase 1.2 percent over last year.
“2016 was the first year Vietnam earned over $2 billion from fruit and vegetables export and many models of hi-tech agriculture were applied in many provinces and cities nationwide,” the PM noted.
Vietnam now grows rice on about 3.8 million hectares. But according to MARD, the country only needs around three million hectares to cultivate enough rice to feed the entire population. The remaining 0.8 million hectares should be switched to grow other crops or for animal husbandry which will generate higher value.
“For the time being, the agriculture sector should make efforts to overcome consequences of natural calamities and reorganize production, particularly the 2016-17 Winter Spring crop in the central provinces, ” PM Phuc said.
He asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to work closely with other agencies to revise the Land Law and facilitate large scale agricultural production, particularly through land aggregation.
The PM also agreed with a proposal that will have the State Bank study and make changes in credit ceilings for the agriculture industry. He also asked the MARD to revise Decree 210/2013/NĐ-CP on encouraging enterprises to invest in agriculture.
Mr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said 2017 was the pivotal year for implementing the country’s five year (2016-2020) socio-economic development plan, including the agriculture sector.
“However, many challenges lie ahead for the agriculture sector in 2017,” he emphasized.
Mr. Cuong laid out three main objectives for the sector next year: to build the agriculture sector based on advanced technology, sustainability, large scale commodities production and production reorganization; to improve competitiveness, improve farmers’ income and their living conditions particularly those living in the countryside; and to manage and use effectively and sustainably the country’s natural resources while protecting the environment.
He further added that in 2017, the MARD would focus its efforts on improving management of agricultural materials and food safety. The minister also pledged more regular as well as surprise inspections missions to promote food safety.
“In 2017, the agricultural sector will try to achieve a growth rate of 2.5-2.8 percent; a production value increase of between 3-3.2 percent; export turnover of $32-32.5 billion; forest coverage is about 41.45 percent and a 28-30 percent increase in the number of communes becoming “new rural areas”, Mr. Cuong said.