Transport disruption leaves millions of tons of farm produce stranded in south

By Anh Minh   August 6, 2021 | 11:00 pm PT
Transport disruption leaves millions of tons of farm produce stranded in south
Farmers harvest rice in the southern province of Soc Trang in March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyet Nhi.
Millions of tons of agriculture produce including rice, vegetables and eggs are stuck in the 26 southern provinces as distribution has been hit by social distancing restrictions.

They include five million tons of paddy, four million tons of vegetables and fruits, 400 million eggs, 600,000 tons of chicken, 120,000 tons of seafood, and 80,000 tons of pork, Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien said Friday.

The pileup has been attributed mainly to the transport restrictions imposed in 19 Covid-hit southern localities including Ho Chi Minh City, a major consumption area for the items.

Though the government has directed local authorities to prioritize transport of essential goods, there are no consistent regulations, which blocks the flow of goods.

Long An authorities said the closure of three wholesale markets and a number of traditional markets in HCMC means the province is unable to sell its dragon fruit and rice.

Companies are also struggling to export.

Nguyen Dinh Tung, chairman of fruit exporter Vina T&T, said the lack of empty containers is causing produce to pile up at ports, while container transport costs have surged 10-fold.

Some localities have ordered factories to operate between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. while earlier they used to work from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m., and this has reduced the output of his company by 20-30 percent, he said.

While many other major rice producing countries have seen supply chains disrupted because of the pandemic, Vietnam has not, Dien said.

"But this happiness could slip away if we do not take timely action."

The ministry wants to buy four million tons of paddy (equivalent to 2.5 million tons of rice) to stockpile since the world "will surely need food post Covid-19."

Localities too should do the same, Tung added.

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