|Farmers collect salt in northern Nam Dinh Province's Hai Thinh Commune. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to restructure the salt industry to increase its value and ensure sustainable development. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh
HA NOI (VNS) — The nation's salt industry will be restructured to add more value to its products and ensure sustainable development, the Agriculture Ministry has announced.
Under a five-year restructuring (until 2020) action plan for the industry presented by the ministry at a conference held in Ha Noi on Tuesday, production area would be expanded to 14,500ha with an annual productivity of 2 million tonnes.
Infrastructure upgrades including more efficient irrigation systems and application of advanced technology in production are also mentioned in the plan as part of efforts to increase the added value of salt products by at least 20 per cent.
The plan seeks to set up a model for co-operation between farmers and enterprises in the production and consumption of purified salt.
Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam said that towards ensuring successful implementation of the action plan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has asked its Department for Agro-forestry, Fisheries and Salt Production (DAFSP) to set up a salt production association.
He said this association would serve as a bridge between salt enterprises and State management authorities in securing rights and benefits for both farmers and businesses.
The ministry has urged salt producing localities to review their growth and prepare restructuring plans that are in line with the national master plan for the industry.
Conference participants noted that Viet Nam's salt production was mostly manual and heavily dependent on weather conditions, affecting product volume and quality. The industry is also finding it increasingly difficult to compete in the domestic market against imported salt, they said.
An Van Khanh, DAFSP deputy director, said current challenges facing the industry included a high rate of unemployment among salt workers, low capacity, and low consumption.
He said the signing of several Free Trade Agreements would directly impact salt production and consumption in the country.
Viet Nam has a total of 21 coastal provinces engaged in salt farming, from Hai Phong City in the North to Ca Mau Province in the South.
The industry employs 78,600 people and has an annual labour productivity of 15 tonnes per person. It has produced an average of 900,000 tonnes of salt per year over the last five years.
However, imported salt, mostly from Pakistan and India, has dominated the domestic market, resulting in a surplus of Vietnamese salt.
Viet Nam produced 1.3 million tonnes last year alone, about 250,000 tonnes of which were unsold. Yet, it also imported more than 350,000 tonnes of salt the same year.
So far this year, the stock of unsold salt has risen to 600,000 tonnes, four times the figure recorded during the same period last year, the conference heard. — VNS