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Farming sector fights back

Update: September, 05/2013 - 10:19

Coffee exports in the first eight months saw a year-on-year drop of 23.2 per cent in volume (to 974,000 tonnes) and 22.5 per cent in value to $2.09 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.— Photo kinhtenongthon

HA NOI (VNS) — The farming sector needs urgent solutions to overcome the current export slump and ensure a brighter future, experts have said.

The farming, forestry and fisheries sectors' export values saw a slight year-on-year decline of 1.1 per cent in the first eight months of the year to US$17.98 billion.

The reduction was due to economic difficulties, limited goods consumption and the impact of inclement weather on farming products, said Tran Thanh Hai, deputy head of the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Ho Van Nien, vice chairman of the People's Committee of southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, said farming exports for this whole year were expected to fall short of their target because exports had slipped both in terms of volume and value since the start of this year.

This was the first time the province had faced farming export difficulties, with cashew and fisheries hit particularly hard, registering year-on-year export volume falls of 29.51 and 12.24 per cent, respectively.

Nien said the fisheries sector must faced the most issues due to lack of raw materials, low selling prices and high input costs.

Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe agreed, adding that the sector's export markets had shrunk due to the global economic downturn.

Coffee exports drop

Meanwhile, coffee exports in the first eight months saw a year-on-year drop of 23.2 per cent in volume (to 974,000 tonnes) and 22.5 per cent in value to $2.09 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Luong Van Tu, chairman of the Viet Nam Coffee and Cacao Association, said the reduction was due to fall 20 per cent in coffee output against last year.

Local coffee enterprises must also compete with foreign rivals in purchasing coffee on the domestic market, he added.

Hai said the instability of national farming exports had led to fluctuations in the volume and price of those products.

Therefore, the farming and fisheries sectors should focus on improving quality and developing product trademarks to build stronger reputations and increase competitiveness on the world market, he said.

Hai believed foreign partners had imposed unnecessary conditions on local export products and said the Ministry of Industry and Trade would promote negotiations with foreign countries to abolish unnecessary barriers for Vietnamese farming and seafood products.

The ministry has so far built mechanisms and policies to support consumption of high output commodities such as rice, seafood, coffee, cashew and pepper.

It will also improve the efficiency of market information and forecasts of commodities for producers and exporters, while disseminating information about commercial barriers for local exporters to increase exports and avoid risks around entering export contracts.

Truong Thanh Phong, chairman of the Viet Nam Food Association, said Viet Nam should review its target for exporting farming products, including rice, to focus on value instead of volume.

For instance, the country should limit rice export volume to six million tonnes per year and have solutions in place to increase the value of rice export products.

The planning sector should co-operate with farming and seafood associations to closely follow sales and demand of those commodities on the local and world markets so that the planning sector would have advice for farmers in planting crops and raising animals to ensure a high selling price, Phong added.

Trade expert Pham Tat Thang said if agricultural production continued to increase the number of export commodities, consumption of those products would be likely to wane at home and abroad due to excess.

The farming and fisheries sectors should restructure production and business operations to ensure sustainable development of export staples, he said. — VNS

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