Agriculture Crucial to National Growth

Agricultural companies in conjunction with other industries contributed significantly to national GDP growth and the job market, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Last year GDP grew by 8.5 percent, with a per capita GDP of over 800 USD, said deputy director of MARD’s Department of Agricultural Enterprises Management and Renovation Dinh Quang Tuan at a conference on May 30.

According to the General Statistics Office, by December 2005, Viet Nam had 1,071 companies involved in the agricultural and forest sectors and 1,358 companies involved in fisheries, accounting for 1 percent and 1.4 percent of the country’s total, respectively.

In 2007, agricultural companies generated nearly VND200 trillion (US$12.5 billion ) in production value, a year on year increase of 4.6 percent.

Key agricultural exports include fish products, wood and furniture, coffee, rice and rubber. In particular, the wood export value was at $2.35 billion, up by 22 percent; coffee, $1.8 billion and up by 20 percent; rice, $1.46 billion and up 14.4 percent; and rubber, $1.36 billion and up by 5.6 percent.

In the first three months of 2008, the agricultural sector’s export value was estimated at $3.2 billion, up by 11.6 percent over the same period last year.

About 200,000 people work in agricultural and forestry companies, nearly 4 percent of the national workforce. Each of these companies typically employs about 200 people.

Meanwhile, there are 31,505 labourers employed in the fisheries industry, accounting for only 0.5 percent of the total.

Tuan attributed such encouraging achievements to many reason, one of which was that companies, farmers, managers and scientists have established closer relationships.

He said the strong development of agricultural companies over the last few years helped speed up the transformation of the economic structure towards industrialisation and modernisation, particularly the industrialisation of rural areas.

They also reduced the unemployment rate and poverty in many communities and mobilised capital from both public and private sectors.

Tuan however highlighted some current limitations believed to prevent the further development of domestic agricultural enterprises.

Among other shortcomings are low management skills, limited capital, worker’s poor technological and scientific skills, low product quality and high production costs, he said.

Poor infrastructure, unpredictable weather, and lack of proper financial and technological policies are more difficulties on agricultural enterprises’ horizon.

Source: VNA

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