HA NOI — Although Viet Nam has had favourable soil and weather conditions for cotton cultivation, domestic production provides just 1.5 per cent of the total need for the textile and garment sector, according to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa.
|Farmers harvest cotton in Tuy An District in the south central province of Phu Yen. Low cotton prices and the increasing cost of fertiliser are concerning farmers and discouraging investments. – VNA/VNS Photo The Lap
Measures to boost domestic cotton farming were drawn in a 2010 Governmental decision that looked to cotton production development programmes for the next five years, with an orientation until 2020. However many of the measures had yet to be implemented, Thoa said at preliminary two-year review of the decision last Saturday.
While Viet Nam requires about 400,000 tonnes of cotton yearly to serve its textile and garment sector, the country's12,000ha of cotton farms produce only 5,000 tonnes.
Under the development programme, by 2015 the country aims to have 30,000ha of cotton producing 20,000 tonnes, and 76,000ha producing 60,000 tonnes by 2020. It also targets the expansion of cotton growing areas irrigated by stable water supplies rather than wholly dependent on rain water.
However, "it's difficult to achieve these goals," Thoa said.
She pointed out the legal regulations that cotton growers faced in accessing preferential bank loans as well as the limited funds for cotton breeding research and land for cultivation.
Head of the ministry's Light Industry Department Phan Chi Dung said that after the two years of implementation, the country had only two cotton farms in central Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan provinces that applied modern irrigation systems.
The rest of the cotton areas were small-scale and relied on rain water.
"Low cotton prices and the increasing price of fertiliser worried farmers, mostly those from poor households, and slowed their investments in the crop," Dung said.
"It is necessary to establish a cotton price stabilisation fund, mentioned in the development programme already, to support growers in the case of prices decreasing too much and rendering growers unable to cover production costs."
He added that domestic textile and garment manufacturers would extract 2 per cent of their production costs to contribute to the fund.
More supports were also needed to improve human resources and scientific application in this field. Expanding cotton growing areas and improving cotton productivity would raise the competitiveness of Vietnamese cotton products and help growers prosper.
General Director of the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group Tran Quang Nghi said that provinces like Binh Thuan, Dak Lak and Quang Binh had designed a cotton development plan but local people still had doubts about the outlook of cotton production, let alone the complicated administrative procedures and limited access to bank loans.
He suggested that localities should designate land to set up a sample high-yield cotton field first for evidence of cotton farming's economic profit, and later expand the model.
He also asked for regulations that would allow the transfer of exhausted forest to cotton growing areas. — VNS