HA NOI — Food security, safety and infrastructure investment in rural areas were among the chief issues discussed at yesterday's online dialogue between members of the public and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat on the Government's website.
|Workers nurse young trees for trade at the northern city of Hai Phong's Hi-tech Centre for Breeding and Agriculture and Forestry Development. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
On the forum the public raised concerns over whether food security targets would be achieved when land for agricultural production was lost to construction projects such as golf courses and industrial parks.
Phat said the Party, Government and National Assembly were closely monitoring the development of agricultural land.
He pointed out that the Government had passed a resolution on increasing management of land for rice cultivation and that a minimum of 3.8 million ha of land had been set aside for rice cultivation up to 2020.
The minister also said the State had introduced numerous policies to boost food security.
In response to questions raised over food safety and quality, Phat said the ministry implemented a very effective law on food safety and hygiene in 2011.
"We are trying to build and issue legal documents to provide a legal foundation for localities to better manage food quality and increase management over the import of farm produce from abroad, while working on food inspections," he added.
In response to questions regarding the discovery of a banned growth hormone found in a number of pig-rearing households, Phat said the ministry would step up livestock inspections.
The ministry has also asked authorised agencies to punish those found to be using banned chemicals to boost profits.
Phat added that over the past few years, the State had mobilised resources to improve infrastructure in rural areas to improve farmers' living conditions.
Le Thi Hanh, from northern Bac Giang Province, said she often found imported products in her local market such as Thai rice and Chinese fruits and asked whether the ministry had implemented measures to protect made-in-Viet Nam products.
However, the minister said that when the country joined the World Trade Organisation it was committed to open up the domestic market to foreign goods, and that member countries were not allowed to be protectionist.
He said the export of Vietnamese agro-forestry and fisheries products had increased sharply since the country joined the WTO and that in 2011 they were worth about US$25 billion.
In an open market, Phat said it was vital that domestic producers focused on price and quality.
He also said the ministry had taken measures to ensure foreign farm products imported into Viet Nam met national standards, particularly when it came to food safety and hygiene.
Meanwhile, Le Van Thiet, from northern Son La Province, asked why firms seemed reluctant to invest in the agricultural sector, particularly in remote areas.
Phat said the agriculture sector was considered high-risk and vulnerable to price fluctuations, as well as diseases and a shortage of natural resources.
To offset the risks, the Government has issued a number of policies to encourage businesses to invest in the agricultural sector, such as tax incentives and land rent discounts, while investing in infrastructure, he said.
On the subject of the Government's plan to buy one million tonnes of rice to hold in reserve to help farmers in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces, Phat said the move would help to stabilise prices in a volatile market.
He said the Government had also invested in upgrading irrigation works and research on new rice varieties to boost yields and quality.
Phat also said the Government had implemented measures to protect forests against illegal logging.
He said there had been a marked decline in deforestation across the country over the last few years, particularly in the Central Highlands. However, he said, illegal logging was still a major problem.
He also said the Government had called on his ministry to implement policies that would encourage local people to protect forestry land. — VNS