Vietnam launches new agency to 'rescue' farm products

By VnExpress   June 22, 2017 | 12:03 pm GMT+7

Farmers are growing more food than the population can eat due to a breakdown in communication.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) launched a new department on Wednesday aiming to “rescue” the country's farm products.

Despite its agricultural strengths, Vietnam simply isn't consuming its own agro-products. Weak connections between farmers and traders and an inability to forecast the market have led to overproduction, leaving farmers and producers on the brink of bankruptcy.

Local people have even been asked to step in and buy up excess supplies of bananas, watermelons and pork since the beginning of the year.

The department will offer market forecasts and monitor the consumption of domestic farm products, then coordinate with relevant agencies to balance supply and demand as well as work with the trade ministry to control imports and exports, said MARD on its website.

According to MARD chief Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Vietnam has managed to shift from a hungry country to a major food exporter in the past 30 years.

Last year, Vietnam raked in $32 billion from agro-forestry-fishery exports. Of that figure, 10 items enjoyed export revenue of over $1 billion.

However, the Southeast Asian country is facing three main challenges. Firstly, Vietnam has over 10 million farming households whose productivity remains lower than that of the region and the world. Secondly, Vietnam is among the world’s top five nations hardest hit by climate change, especially in agriculture. Thirdly, in the age of integration, the country faces fierce competition from overseas.

To address these challenges, Cuong said the sector needs to restructure and focus more on processing and marketing.

“Currently, processing and marketing remain weak in Vietnam as production and marketing are not linked, which results in the overproduction of many agricultural products,” said Cuong.

The new department is expected to work closely with ministries, associations and businesses to connect production and marketing with the aim of tapping the world’s 7 billion population and the 92 million people in the domestic market, Cuong said.