08:45 | 09/07/2015 Society
(VEN) - The 2nd Responsible Business Forum on Food and Agriculture was held recently in Hanoi focusing on challenges and opportunities for the development of sustainable food systems, while at the same time emphasizing ASEAN’s role in providing food for about nine billion people worldwide by 2050.
Under the theme, “ASEAN beyond 2015: Collaboration for Equitable Development”, the forum discussed the benefits of public-private partnerships (PPP) with a vision to sustainable agriculture development in the Southeastern region as a task and responsibility of ASEAN countries.
Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Chairman Vu Tien Loc said that farmers and medium to small-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the most vulnerable during international economic integration. For this reason, an action program should be in place to involve them. On one hand, it is important to help major businesses build capacity and to apply sound policies to encourage big businesses to invest in agriculture. On the other hand, it is needed to help farming households and SMEs join the global value chain.
CropLife Asia Executive Director Dr Tan Siang Hee said that the per capita income for farmers in the Netherlands reached US$60,000 per year compared with US$56,000 in Australia and merely US$1,000 in ASEAN countries. To increase productivity and incomes, ASEAN farmers need support to be able to take part in the value chain. However, the biggest challenge now lies in the fact that ASEAN’s general policies have been implemented ineffectively largely due to barriers in terms of national sovereignty.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development former director Dr Dang Kim Son said that ASEAN has strength in agriculture and is a very large market for agricultural products. In consideration of this, realizing the ASEAN community in the short run would create major advantage for regional agriculture and farmers. However, ASEAN needs to resolve a number of problems such as reducing protective barriers, open up inner-bloc trade and harmonize domestic political requirements with the bloc’s interests.
According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh, a major challenge for Vietnam and ASEAN countries is to meet the world’s growing demand for sustainable agricultural development. For this to happen, ASEAN countries need to further develop the PPP model.
As for Vietnam, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development officially launched a PPP program in 2011 attracting 16 multinational companies in the areas of coffee, tea, seafood, pepper, common goods and agricultural finance.
It is expected that after the forum businesses will enhance PPP cooperation in order to significantly increase agricultural output, ensure food security and sharpen the competitiveness of ASEAN’s agricultural products in the global market,” said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh.