Lawmakers sow fruit and vegetable export plan to stem poverty in rural Vietnam

By Ngan Anh   November 1, 2017 | 07:00 pm GMT+7
Lawmakers sow fruit and vegetable export plan to stem poverty in rural Vietnam
Fruit and vegetables are expected to be a major foreign currency earner for Vietnam. Photo by Reuters

Vietnam earned more from fruit and vegetable exports than it did from oil shipments last year.

The government should focus on helping farmers to grow fruit and vegetables for export to combat rural poverty, delegates said at an ongoing session of the legislative National Assembly on Wednesday.

Rural localities, especially mountainous areas, should establish cooperatives and take advantage of their natural surroundings to grow more fruit and vegetables for export, Nguyen Thien Nhan, the chief of Ho Chi Minh City’s Communist Party, said. (Nhan is also an elected legislator.)

Last year, total export revenue from fruit and vegetables surpassed that of crude oil for the first time, he said, citing that Vietnam earned $2.4 billion from shipping crude oil abroad and $2.45 billion from fruit and vegetable exports.

To put things in perspectives, in 2005 earnings from crude oil exports reached $7.3 billion, 31 times higher than that of fruit and vegetables, Nhan said. The growth of crude oil exports has slowed over the past five years, while fruit and vegetable export revenue has increased 30 percent each year, he added.

“Fruit and vegetable export value will reach an estimated $9-10 billion by 2020, higher than crude oil even at its peak,” Nhan told legislators. “This means the development of rural cooperatives to meet the global demand for fruit and vegetables is more than feasible.”

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said his ministry is reviewing farming production to help rural areas make the most of their local conditions.

Each commune should focus on certain products for export, he said.

"We have nearly 9,000 communes nationwide with different climate conditions, and the potential to grow specialty fruit and vegetables that would create huge export earnings," he added.

Vietnam is expected to reap $3 billion from fruit and vegetable exports in 2017.

A growing appetite among foreign consumers for Vietnamese fruit is expected to reduce the country’s reliance on China, which accounted for 70 percent of Vietnam's fruit and vegetable exports in 2016.