12:10 | 06/02/2016 Trade
(VEN) - Rice, cashew nuts, pepper, and shrimp remain Vietnam’s key export products in 2016. However, a key task will be to improve the quality and value of export products.
Rice exports are expected to increase in 2016
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said that the agricultural sector encountered numerous difficulties in 2015 due to global price falls. As a large agricultural exporter, Vietnam has been seriously affected. Agricultural production could not expand in many localities. Domestic prices of agricultural products decreased, for example rice fell 8.7 percent, rubber 20.5 percent, and black tiger shrimp 30 percent.
According to Minister Phat, the government and local authorities have provided guidance for promoting agriculture and rural development while at the same time making suitable policy adjustments to help agricultural businesses overcome difficulties in an effort to maintain agricultural growth in 2015, although at a low level, compared with 2014 - a good year for agriculture. As a result, rice farmers in the north had a bumper winter-spring crop, and crop restructuring was accelerated in the central region. Thanks to higher yields in the autumn-winter crop, rice farmers harvested an additional 200,000 tonnes compared with the annual plan. In the context of difficulties facing white-leg shrimp sales, farmers have been guided to expand black tiger shrimp breeding, so shrimp output of 2015 almost equaled that of 2014, at nearly 650,000 tonnes.
Ministries, sectors, and localities actively helped farmers promote sales. The export volume of most agricultural products increased in 2015. The value of exports to key markets grew, especially to China.
Vegetables and fruit made up the brightest point of the export picture of the agro, forestry, and fishery sectors in 2015. The export value of these products reached nearly US$2 billion. In recent years, the export of Vietnamese vegetables and fruit has grown continuously. Some kinds of fresh fruit such as dragon fruit, and mango have entered difficult-to-please markets like Japan.
However, due to general difficulties facing the entire economy, export prices of many kinds of agricultural products strongly decreased in 2015, leading to a two percent fall in the total export value of agricultural, forest and seafood products (US$30.14 billion) compared with 2014.
Focusing on key crops
Regarding agricultural production and exports in 2016, Minister Phat said that like previous years, the agricultural sector would continue to cope with droughts in 2016. Prices in the global market are set to continue falling. Rice and shrimp prices have improved but remain low. For these reasons, the agricultural sector is still facing and will continue to encounter numerous difficulties.
In this context, Minister Phat emphasized, “It is necessary to check water resources and follow the guidance of agricultural specialists to restructure production and crops, especially in the central region and Central Highlands. Some localities need to make a shift to planting other kinds of crops that bring higher added value.”
Despite difficulties, some kinds of agricultural products sold well in 2015 and it is necessary to concentrate on measures required to increase their export value. Rice is an example. It is necessary to expand rice production in the coming winter-spring crop because some other rice exporting countries are coping with droughts and bad harvests, and this is a good condition for Vietnam to increase rice exports in the time to come. Farmers need to concentrate on growing high-quality rice varieties, for which there is high market demand.
Provinces that have cashew plantations need to concentrate on increasing cashew yields because Vietnam still has to import raw cashew-nuts for processing while holding a 50 percent share in the global market. It is necessary to promote intensive cultivation of pepper, focusing on quality products. The growing of vegetables and fruit needs to be expanded because these have been key export products in the last several years. Water-saving irrigation techniques need to be applied in replanting coffee in order to reduce production costs and waste emissions. Shrimp farming needs to be improved to increase black tiger shrimp output and promote the sustainable production of white-leg shrimp. Large-sized timber production needs to be expanded to ensure a sufficient supply of materials for making wood products for export.
Along with boosting agricultural restructuring and building new rural areas, the entire agro, forestry and fishery sectors must consider food safety and hygiene as one of the most important tasks in 2016. In the near future, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will launch a campaign to prevent the overuse of antibiotics, pesticides, and veterinary medicines to ensure food safety and hygiene and create higher added value for export products.