10:46 | 25/06/2018 Society
(VEN) - Vietnamese experts and lawmakers are expressing concern about the slow pace of agricultural restructuring during a five-year plan designed to transform the country’s farms into a modern economic sector.
The objective of the five-year agricultural restructuring plan was to enhance the competitiveness of Vietnamese farm produce in order to increase the income and improve the lives of rural residents rather than focusing on growth, exports or the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI).
At a May 25 session of Vietnam’s National Assembly, delegates expressed their concern about continuing farm produce oversupply and price drops, as well as support policies for farmers. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said in response that with millions of farm households, and nearly 70 million small plots of land, it would take time to transit to a modern agriculture.
Speaking at the Vietnam Spring Agriculture Forum 2018, Dr. Dao The Anh, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, conceded the restructuring plan had yielded some positive change. The export value of agricultural, forest and aquatic products grew significantly and the quality of most key crops improved thanks to the use of new varieties and advanced intensive farming methods.
However, Son added, “The results achieved are below the set targets, the desires and the potential of the agricultural sector, due to a lack of comprehensive measures.”
Specifically, Vietnam is still waiting for an institutional breakthrough that would promote an effective cooperative economy with tight linkages among farming households, he said. A startup wave in agriculture is yet to occur, Son said. Although state management has shown positive changes, the ask-give (subsidization) mechanism still exists.
Son also pointed to limitations in scientific research and technology development, leading to a lack of high-tech agricultural zones. Business investment in scientific research and technology development remains limited. Breakthroughs in terms of market development are also lacking. Good market signals from the US, Australia, the Republic of Korea and Japan have yet to be harnessed.
To accelerate agricultural restructuring, Dr. Dang Kim Son said, production must shift from small-sized to large-sized farming households; rural workers should sign labor contracts with their employers that provide them with insurance, and join trade unions to ensure their rights and interests are protected; investment in cooperatives should be increased.
Dr. Dao The Anh said that in order to increase the effectiveness of linkages between enterprises and cooperatives, farmers should change their thinking from producing agriculture to doing business in agriculture. Anh added that the cooperatives needed to study and understand market demand in terms of quality and consumer tastes in order to formulate suitable production plans and avoid the oversupply that results in steep price drops.