Creating strategic breakthroughs in agriculture

15:16 | 18/02/2017 Economy- Society

(VEN) - The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyen Xuan Cuong, said at a conference reviewing the agricultural sector in 2016 and plans for 2017 in Hanoi on December 26, 2016 that 2017 is an important year for implementation of the national socioeconomic development plan, as well as the 2016-2020 agricultural sector development plan. A 2.5-2.8 percent growth in farm produce, forest products and seafood production value, a 3-3.2 percent growth in the whole agricultural sector’s production value, and export revenue of US$32-32.5 billion are the major targets of the sector in 2107, the minister added.    

The agricultural sector’s growth potential is huge

Cuong said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will work hard to restructure the agricultural sector and continue the new rural area development program in an attempt to reach the above-mentioned targets. He said that agricultural restructuring will be implemented through formation and development of three key product groups - national products, provincial products and special products of localities.

Ten key national products with export revenues of US$1 billion or higher, notable provincial products such as high quality lychees from Bac Giang Province, high quality longan from Hung Yen Province, custard apples from Lang Son Province, and Cao Lanh mangos from Dong Thap Province, as well as outstanding specialties of localities nationwide will be selected for central development, the minister said. Science, technology and various policies will be applied to accelerate the development, while cooperatives will be established to develop production and supply-demand connections.

The minister said that the main objective of the new rural area development program is to improve farmers’ lives and it is therefore important to enhance and restructure production toward climate-smart agricultural development while at the same time protecting the environment.

Ensuring food safety and hygiene is a top 2017 priority for the agricultural sector. There are currently 4,000 safe farm produce and food supply chains nationwide. One of the major achievements in agriculture last year was discontinuation of salbutamol and Auramine O in livestock and poultry feed. Pesticide concentrations in vegetable products have also decreased significantly.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam, in carrying out the restructuring strategy, development of a food safety-oriented and environmentally friendly agriculture should be encouraged, including organic farming. Meanwhile, it is necessary to continue implementation of food safety tasks, including direct inspection, testing and handling of violations related to the use of banned substances; building certified production and supply chains; connecting with consumers, and strengthening information and communication.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a conference reviewing the agricultural sector in 2016 and plans for 2017 in Hanoi on December 26, 2016

Huge growth potential

Laying out guidelines at the conference, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that the growth potential of the agricultural sector is huge, and the question is how to bring that potential into play. According to the Prime Minister, in the short run, damage caused by natural disasters, particularly in the central provinces, must be repaired: organizing a special winter-spring crop and preparing Tet (the Lunar New Year Holiday) for people affected by natural disasters to ensure they have enough food.

Referring to the main directions of the country’s agriculture in 2017, the Prime Minister said that agriculture, information technology and tourism are still Vietnam’s strengths in the fourth technological revolution, as well as the comparative advantage of the economy. Therefore, investment in agricultural production value should be a priority, more than in raw output, and development of farm produce brands has become urgent.

Regarding specific measures for the agricultural sector in 2017 and beyond, the Prime Minister noted a number of key targets: 1) to promote agricultural restructuring qualitatively, not quantitatively. It is necessary to establish a special working group on agricultural restructuring while at the same time learning about global development trends; 2) to continue special modes of production, including agricultural cooperatives and high-tech agricultural models; 3) to develop the processing industry; to continue developing brands for national products, giving priority to notable local products; and 4) to modernize agriculture and rural areas, especially to improve land policies including policies governing the use of land for rice cultivation.

The Prime Minister said he would propose abolishing policies obstructing agricultural and rural development. He agreed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s proposal on reviewing and renewing policies on agricultural restructuring and development. He also asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other relevant ministries and sectors to formulate policies on developing agricultural land use rights and to suggest amendments to the Land Law towards promoting large-scale agricultural production. The Prime Minister assigned the State Bank of Vietnam to consider revising policies in order to encourage credit institutions to provide loans for agricultural projects, so that borrowers can use their greenhouses as collaterals.

He also told the Ministry of Planning and Investment to urgently assess policies on attracting investment in agriculture and rural areas, and assigned the Ministry of Industry and Trade to develop markets, negotiate the removal of trade barriers and promote farm produce sales.

Nguyen Hanh