Resolute to Successfully Create High-Quality Agricultural Brands

11:03:14 AM | 7/22/2021

The comprehensively developed agricultural sector has reaffirmed its role as the backbone of the economy. Restructuring has facilitated Vietnam's agricultural growth, made the countryside modern and unique, and improved quality of life among farmers. To have a more holistic view of Vietnam's agriculture in the new period, Vietnam Business Forum's reporter has an interview with Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam. Minh Ngoc reports.

Could you please tell us about agricultural development in the past time and challenges that the country is facing?

In 2016 - 2020, the overall goals of the agricultural sector were to further develop the three pillars of economy - society - environment; comprehensively develop agriculture, farmers and rural areas in a sustainable way and increase added value, performance and competitiveness; improve farmers' livelihoods faster, eradicate hunger and reduce poverty, protect the ecological environment and guarantee security and defense. Especially as socio-economic difficulties are caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture has affirmed the supporting role of the economy, firmly ensured national food security, generated a high export surplus, restored the country's economy to normalcy, brought hard foreign currencies for the country, and created livelihoods, jobs and stable income for people. In 2016-2020, the total export value of agricultural, forest and aquatic products reached more than US$190 billion, including over US$41 billion in 2020 alone, higher than the target and well above the result of US$30 billion in 2015. The average income of a rural resident was VND43 million in 2020. The agricultural product processing industry developed rapidly, powered by high technology, to increase added value for agricultural products. In the past five years, 67 large modern agricultural processors were built and put into operation with a total investment fund of about US$2.58 billion to create new capacity to accelerate the intensive agricultural restructuring. Currently, Vietnamese agricultural products have been exported to over 196 countries and territories around the globe, including demanding markets such as the United States, Japan and the European Union. Vietnam is the biggest agricultural exporter in Southeast Asia.

However, Vietnam's agriculture is facing enormous challenges, including household-scale, smallholding and segmented production, a bottleneck in international integration that weakens competitiveness and affects the capability of quality, process and cost control. In addition, Vietnam is one of five countries most vulnerable to climate change, estimated to affect all seven socioeconomic regions, with key agricultural production areas expected to suffer most, especially the Mekong Delta, the Red River Delta and the Coast. Other adversities include African swine fever virus, COVID-19 pandemic, rural environmental pollution and unsustainable development elements.

So, what are the solutions?

Facing this reality, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development advocates clearing bottlenecks to accelerate agricultural development and restructuring: 1) Reorganizing and restructuring agricultural, forest and fishery chains across three key product lines; 2) focusing on developing processing industries and consumption markets; 3) improving the capacity and effectiveness of cross-border epidemic prevention and control and limiting impacts caused by natural disasters; 4) effectively improving and applying mechanisms and policies on land and agricultural investment. Land policy will be perfected towards strict management and better use of agricultural land, protection of farmer interests.

How will agricultural restructuring be directed when agricultural economic thinking changes?

 Industrial Revolution 4.0 has been moving at an ever-increasing pace. Therefore, the first thing I care about is how Vietnam's agriculture will not miss the opportunity and we will not simply judge the growth of the agricultural industry based on productivity and output, but integrated value and sustainability. We must shift from a production mindset to an agrarian economic mindset. The viewpoint on “Agriculture is an economic sector, not just a production activity" will activate a variety of new approaches, integrate added value, and open up many development opportunities. We must turn new challenges into motivation, seize timely opportunities, mobilize internal and external mindset to bring agriculture and rural areas towards modernity and identity and improve farmers’ life quality. Vietnamese agriculture will successfully create clean, safe and quality agricultural brands.

Besides, agriculture must be integrated with multi-values, not single-values anymore because buyers now also care about the value and utility of products, not only about the price. Consumers now prefer nutrition, taste and safety. Therefore, production must also be divided into many streams according to social needs. Besides solving the problem for the majority, we must respond to the personalized needs of different consumers.

Source:  Vietnam Business Forum