|Minster of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat speaks at a forum yesterday. — Photo thesaigontimes
HCM CITY (VNS) — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development wants to strengthen links with overseas Vietnamese to boost the agricultural sector and improve farmers' lives.
Minster of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, speaking at a forum held in HCM City yesterday to connect overseas Vietnamese businesses with local firms, said the biggest challenge for the agricultural sector is finding markets for its produce.
With 70 per cent of the country's population involved in agriculture, the Government has always paid great attention to finding outlets for farm produce, and has signed or is negotiating a series of free trade agreements with other countries and worked with them to facilitate export of Vietnamese goods, he said.
The ministry wants to establish close links with Vietnamese communities abroad to further penetrate international markets, he said.
Vu Thi Mai Lien of Moscow-based Miliand Company said in Russia there is high demand for many Vietnamese fruits like dragon fruit, mango, longan and litchi.
She wants to buy the fruits, but said air transport would mean high costs, making them less competitive, while shipping by sea would take 45-60 days for the products to reach Russia, meaning keep the fruits fresh would be a problem.
Phat said the ministry wants to export dragon fruit worldwide, but finding a way to keep consignments fresh on long trips is a headache.
It wants to enhance co-operation with Israel and other countries to acquire advanced fruit and vegetable preservation technologies, he said.
Dinh Kim Nguyet of Canada said it is very hard to find Vietnamese farm produce in Canada.
"I heard that Viet Nam is one of the world's leading rice exporters, but we do not find Vietnamese rice in our place, only Thai."
Dragon fruit is exported to Canada, but, in the absence of promotions, Canadian consumers do not know about the fruit, she said, adding this should be addressed.
Ngo Chi Phuong of Sweden said Swedes like fish and urged Vietnamese seafood exporters to provide more information to consumers about how to cook their products.
Delegates at the forum said since consumers are willing to pay high prices for quality products, the industry should instruct farmers to apply international standards to ensure products meet import markets' requirements.
Phat said the Government plans to restructure agriculture, including encouraging farmers to join co-operatives to develop agriculture in collaboration with businesses.
Overseas Vietnamese businesses said they are willing to help Vietnamese businesses promote their products abroad.
Phat said the country's agricultural sector has developed consistently in the last 30 years regardless of the global economic situation.
Despite being the leading exporter of many kinds of farm produce like cashew, rice, pepper, and coffee, the country mainly ships raw products with little value addition.
Phat said in the coming years Viet Nam would focus on developing the agricultural processing industry.
The ministry would work shoulder to shoulder with businesses to take more Vietnamese goods to the global market, he promised. — VNS