HCM CITY — The country's salt production is expected to reach about 1 million tonnes this year, up 20 per cent against last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
|Salt makers collect salt in central Quang Ngai Province's Pho Thanh Commune.—VNA/VNS Thanh Long
The ministry estimates that total salt supply this year is 1.52 million tonnes, including 170,000 tonnes in stock from last year, 150,000 tonnes produced in 2011 but harvested in 2012, and 200,000 tonnes of imported high-quality salt for use in chemical production and the health care sector.
This year the country's total salt demand will be 1.45 million tonnes.
The price of salt nationwide has increased slightly because unfavourable weather conditions lowered salt output last month, said the ministry's Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production.
The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, for instance, had unusual rains last month and farmers could not produce large quantity of salt.
The price of salt has increased to VND1,100-1,700 (US$0.05-$0.08) a kilo in the Cuu Long Delta and VND1,200-1,800($0.06-$0.09) a kilo in the north.
Nguyen Van Khu, deputy chairman of the Duyen Hai Co-operative in Hai Hau District's Hai Hoa Commune in northern Nam Dinh Province, said farmers were eager to resume production despite the slight price increase.
However, Nguyen Ngoc Thu, head of the Department's Salt Production Division, said last year's salt output reached only 80 per cent of the planned target because of unfavourable weather conditions.
In addition, a survey of the ministry has shown that salt farmers in many localities, including Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces have switched to other jobs.
Salt production faces difficulties because of the lack of proper zoning plans and investment in research techniques to improve salt production and quality, according to experts.
Although salt farming is a traditional occupation, the country does not have a school for training salt engineers.
To solve the problems of salt production, the ministry will this year assign its colleges to set up programmes and curricula for training in salt production techniques.
The ministry will focus on promoting techniques for producing clean salt, including the technique of using plastic canvases on salt fields to produce clean salt.
This year the ministry will implement five models of producing clean salt in Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Ba Ria – Vung Tau provinces.
Some models for clean production have produced high-quality salt, according to An Van Khanh, the department's deputy head.
Some batches of the high-quality salt was recently exported to Japan.
If investment is proper, the salt industry can meet the domestic demand of high-quality salt for chemical production and even export high-quality salt. — VNS