06:00 | 26/04/2020 Society
(VEN) - A decade after launching a national food security program, Vietnam has not only provided sufficient food to meet local needs, it has become one of three largest food exporting countries in the world.
New thinking from production to business
At a national online conference summarizing the “National Food Security until 2020” project, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said that from 2009 to 2019, rice production increased from 39.17 million tonnes to 43.4 million tonnes and per capita food increased from 497kg annually to over 525 kg, putting Vietnam in a group of six leading countries in this index and increasing Vietnam’s role in supporting food security for other countries.
In addition, malnutrition has declined from 18.2 percent in the 2004-2006 period to 10.8 percent today. Every year, 5-7 million tonnes of rice are exported to 150 countries and territories. On average, rice farmers are guaranteed a profit of over 30 percent above production costs and in some places even more.
However, some shortcomings have also emerged, such as production chain linkage. In addition, processing and market organization are generally weak in most industries and labor productivity in agriculture is still low due to small-scale production. Moreover, the application of mechanization and automation remains slow, as has application of digitalization, resulting in high overhead and difficulty competing. Infrastructure development is also not satisfactory and there is still waste before, during and after the harvest.
Trinh Van Chien, Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee of Thanh Hoa Province, said despite the surplus of 900,000 tonnes of food every year, farmers are still poor. Chien suggested shifting rice cultivation to other crops that are more effective but still ensure food security. In addition, he said, marketing should be linked to food production to ensure greater efficiency.
Le Minh Hoan, Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee of Dong Thap Province, said the upcoming revised land law needs to be aligned with the new direction of food security. Especially, it needs to shift from food production to food business, to value demand over supply and quality over quantity. This transformation must be linked to the selection of key production areas in order to ensure food security.
According to Le Minh Hoan, mechanisms and policies on private investment in agriculture must be clear and not as general as in the previous version of the law. Investment in key areas should also be differentiated. For example, agricultural investment in the Mekong Delta should enjoy different incentives from other regions.
US$100 billion export target
Speaking to participants of the online conference, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc hailed the achivements of the decade-long project, noting that Vietnam’s agricultural production now meets not only the basic needs of the people and export needs but also the requirements of coping with natural disasters and epidemics, making an important contribution to the task of ensuring social security, eliminating hunger and reducing poverty.
Food security is always a vital issue for every country and must be ensured under all circumstances, the PM said. In addition to defining areas of rice cultivation and annual food yields, storage facilities must also be strengthened. “In addition, we need to link agricultural development with the development of the economy according to the socialist-oriented market economy development law,” he added. The prime minister also emphasized the need to ensure reserves for food security.
The prime minister emphasized a number of important goals, including quality and quantity to satisfy nutritional needs and a reasonable scientific food structure for the scale of 104 million people by 2030. In addition, the restructuring of agricultural production should be promoted to reach an annual export growth rate of 9-10 percent. “We need to not only strive to achieve export turnover of US$100 billion by 2020 and check land resources as well as promote the advantages of each region but also improve forest cover at the rate higher than 45 percent of which half are special-use forest and protection forest,” the prime minister said.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc:
In 2030, Vietnam will have a population of 104 million people and each person will consume about 95.2kg of rice per
year. To meet domestic demand and realize the target of exporting 4.5 million tonnes of rice as planned in the
National Rice Market Development Strategy, the country needs to keep 3.5 million ha for growing rice to produce
about 35 million tonnes.