Sustainable Solutions for Agricultural Market

9:38:51 AM | 9/7/2021

To continue results achieved by Working Group 970 in southern provinces and cities, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) opened a forum on supply and demand connection for the agricultural market.

This forum, established by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan, aims to boost consumption of agricultural products, fostered by Working Group 970. Its purposes include forming and connecting production, processing, harvesting, circulation and consumption stages of agricultural products, thereby creating close and multi-dimensional cooperation among authorities, enterprises and farmers.

Participating members will be supported to introduce product information and participate in agricultural supply-demand connection chains set up by the Steering Committee for Agricultural Market Development (MARD). Given the complicated development of the COVID-19 epidemic, many agricultural production, supply, distribution and consumption chains in provinces and cities have been disrupted. The forum will help solve three agricultural problems: (1) Addressing bottlenecks of "fragile, small, spontaneous" production; (2) Making policies, searching, negotiating and connecting agricultural product consumption markets; and (3) Promoting business leadership in agricultural production in order to create products of quality, safety and responsibility to meet the increasing and diversified market demands.

The idea of ​​setting up a forum on agricultural production and consumption connection was put forth by Working Group 970. Through close coordination and continuous information updates with the Government’s Special Working Group and representatives of central and local agencies, Working Group 970 realized that bottlenecks and obstacles in agricultural production, processing, harvesting, distribution and consumption can be solved and removed early if the information is clear.

Working Group 970 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development tested many initiatives about information technology and digitization during this time: Building websites, using Facebook and Zalo social networks and providing telephone hotlines. As a result, agricultural production and consumption support in southern provinces and cities is guaranteed in the context of social distancing as per the Government’s Directive 16.

As of August 31, Working Group 970 formed 1,300 supply points, 58 warehouses that gathered agricultural products and food with a daily capacity of 1,000 tons as Ho Chi Minh City tightened social distancing measures. Many large buying orders have been successfully connected to sellers, thus helping supply essential foods for localities and creating high social effects, particularly the 10-kg agricultural product bag program. This model has great ripple effects and has been replicated by many provinces and cities such as Binh Duong and Tien Giang.

People and businesses can register to buy and sell agricultural products on the website of Working Group 970, where both OCOP and non-OCOP products are listed. Working Group 970 suggested localities make a list for prioritized vaccinations of people engaged in processing, packaging and slaughtering facilities, agencies that collect agricultural and aquatic products, merchants of agricultural products and production service facilities like producers and traders of agricultural materials, animal feed and aquatic products.

Clear supply - demand information needed
Mr. Hoang Van Duy, General Director of Mekong Sea Food Group

Cooperating with Working Group 970, the Company dealt to sell about 300 tons of food. However, there are still some limitations. For example, input suppliers can only meet raw materials rather than preliminarily processed ones. In addition, it is hard to connect peers to meet large export orders. Therefore, Mekong Sea Food Group proposed that Working Group 970, Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and cooperatives connect with more capable input companies to effectively meet food market demand and food quality requirements.

Furthermore, the company proposed promoting connectivity forums for agricultural consumption. There is a need for smooth supply and demand information to help capable companies to reach deals sooner, for transparent price information to enhance competitiveness and reduce smallholding cooperation. For the time being, Mekong Sea Food Group already has a 14-member committee to work with Working Group 970 and move forward joining value chains.

Developing agricultural products suitable for online needs
Mr. Nguyen Anh Duc, General Director of Saigon Co-op

According to statistics, from policies and programs of MARD and Working Group 970, Saigon Co-op has contacted 47 matching points and 1,344 connection points to purchase thousands of tons of agricultural products. OCOP product-related programs gradually increased their share from 2.7% to 5.6%.

The upcoming development of Saigon Co-op will be based on five contents: First, the Saigon Co-op Exchange will strengthen connectivity local suppliers of agricultural products. Currently, we are present in 47 out of 63 provinces and cities. We will buy and connect with regions and localities where there is no Co-op Exchange. Second, Saigon Co-op Exchange is carrying out many different sales channels to match current trends and epidemic developments. In addition to the electronic platform, there are also shared purchases and hired shopping services. The development of agricultural products in localities should also follow this trend. Third, Saigon Co-op will invest in commodity purchasing and trading areas with other provinces. Fourth, supply centers will form online-oriented agricultural product floors. Finally, the Saigon Co-op Exchange is considering boosting exports.

Recommendations on including cooperatives into support beneficiaries
Mr. Dinh Minh Hiep, Director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Over the past time, Ho Chi Minh City has received great support from Working Group 970, particularly the close monitoring of agricultural production, especially fruit and vegetable production, and of slaughterhouses. The working group also provided a very important information source for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to help the Department of Industry and Trade support people to place orders through supermarket systems.

In addition, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development raised the four following issues: (1) requesting that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ask the Government to add cooperatives to support beneficiaries impacted by the epidemic; (2) it is very important to provide timely supply - demand information in the context of prolonged social distancing; (3) it is necessary to promote online delivery applications and set up local warehouses to facilitate distribution; and (4), it is necessary to strengthen human resources to supply people.

By Minh Ngoc, Vietnam Business Forum