Agriculture sector ready for major breakthroughs

February 10, 2022 | 08:00
(0) user say
Vietnam is embarking on implementing tasks to realise the target of $50 billion in agricultural, forestry, and fishery export turnover. Now, ministers will be looking to craft the perfect strategy in order to create quality growth for the entire sector.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien

Looking over 2021’s agriculture sector results, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien ascribed these fruits to the great efforts of the ministry, local departments, and business community and households, in addition to the agricultural sector’s drastic and flexible measures.

The sector made miracles last year and played the role of the economy’s backbone – with the export value of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products in Vietnam reaching a record high of $48.6 billion, an increase of nearly 15 per cent compared to 2020.

“The agriculture sector has faced an extreme challenge with the coronavirus pandemic. However, with experience in maintaining production in the context of natural disasters, I believe that any agricultural officer is ready to work with businesses and farmers in any situation,” Tien said.

In addition to top-line figures, 10 Vietnamese agriculture products had a turnover of over $1 billion, and six had a turnover of more than $3 billion: timber, shrimp, fruit and vegetables, cashews, rice, and rubber. Seafood exports also spectacularly returned to reach a turnover of $8.9 billion.

The export turnover of timber and forestry products was estimated to have reached $15.6 billion, accounting for more than 30 per cent of the total export turnover of agro-forestry-fishery products. Vietnam is now ranked first in ASEAN, second in Asia, and fifth worldwide in terms of timber and forestry product exports.

And in fisheries, the sustainable development of both farming and fishing was accelerated. Total aquacultural production reached over $8.89 billion, up 5.7 per cent from 2020.

In the peak time of the pandemic, the agricultural sector’s leaders determined the leading priority was to ensure that the supply chain of agricultural products in the southern provinces was not disrupted. Through the process, the ministry is taking advantage of observation from production and supply to market operation. From there, the agricultural sector will raise ideas about agricultural management and administration, according to Tien.

“When the ministry started to implement tasks to ensure a smooth supply chain, thousands of difficulties emerged – but we need to get through them because the connection of agricultural products serves consumers, promotes the production, and encourages responsible and people-centred production,” Tien added. “In the face of the circumstances, the response capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is very sensitive in taking prompt and decisive action.”

Non-stop efforts

With the direction of the prime minister, the MARD has established two working groups to direct the production and supply of agricultural products in the south and the north. The ministry’s Southern Working Group directed and acted aggressively so as to not disrupt supply chains, and ensure the needs of people in southern provinces and cities in complicated pandemic conditions.

Along with business trips, the ministry also organised forums for connecting agricultural production and consumption, with online attendance of all provinces and cities nationwide. The purpose of the forums was to form and connect the stages of production, processing, harvesting, circulation, and consumption of agricultural products.

Tien also said that the pandemic is a premise for the agricultural sector to quickly implement digital transformation. Thereby, high-scale production of goods is being accelerated, increasing the value of agricultural products and opening up both domestic and international chains.

Meanwhile, taking lychees onto e-commerce platforms has been a sector highlight. Last year, farmers in lychee hubs like the northern province of Bac Giang were worried about how to sell their products during the main harvest season. Meanwhile, Chinese traders were unable to visit to buy lychees as normal since Bac Giang was one of the provinces worst hit by the pandemic.

Thanks to the support of the MARD, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and e-commerce trading floors, lychee from northern provinces such as Bac Giang and Hai Duong were sold via Lazada, Sendo, and by Viettel Post for the first time.

“After all these difficulties, what makes us happy is the satisfied smile of farmers when the consumption of their products is carried out smoothly,” Tien said.

Breakthrough goals

According to Tien, 2022 is a year of special significance for agriculture. The whole sector will focus on implementing drastic restructuring in the direction of increasing added value and sustainable development and building new rural areas towards building the foundation of ecological agriculture, modern countryside, and civilised farmers.

Other key missions for 2022 are to improve the intellectual capacity of human resources, diversify export markets and products, create brands for products, and take full advantage of the many free trade agreements to expand markets and improve the processing industry’s capacity.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked the sector to reach an export turnover of over $50 billion, up 3 per cent on-year. The prime minister’s message is that once the backbone is solid, the country’s economy will have motivation for growth.

Based on those targets, the MARD determined clear missions to promote the sector’s growth, Tien explained. Firstly, it continues to implement solutions to restructure the agricultural sector in association with transforming growth models as well as improving productivity, quality, and efficiency.

At the same time, development of large-scale agricultural production along the value chain will be promoted, implementing a national target programme to build new-style rural areas, developing infrastructure, protecting and improving the quality of existing natural forests, and much more.

Regarding the advantage of boosting export activity, Tien said, “The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will enable Vietnam’s exports of more fruit and vegetables under official quotas to the deal’s member countries. The potential for Vietnamese fruits and vegetables is huge.”

Tien added that Vietnam can be proud of the sector’s achievements in recent times. “However, we cannot be satisfied with these achievements alone as the sector will constantly strive to rise and create value chains. We will make an effort to reorganise the production and processing to take more agricultural products to international standards, constantly improving the quality of life for farmers,” he said.

By Oanh Nguyen

What the stars mean:

★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional