HCM CITY — Agricultural products under the Good Agricultural Practices standard are widespread but farmers face high production costs and lack markets for their products.
Since January, 2008, the VietGap standard has applied to fresh fruit and vegetables, limiting the levels of hazardous substances and produce that doesn't physically measure up.
Control Centre Director for HCM Clean Vegetable Alliance Mai Van Phu said
not only provincial departments of agricultural and rural development could grant GAP certificates so it was difficult to control certification.
Phu said to complete a one-year VietGap certification, farmers had to pay hundreds of million dong which included the cost of analysis and evaluation of soil and water, training farmers and so on.
Dr Vo Mai, deputy chairwoman of the Viet Nam Gardening Association, said the Government must correct the Gap certificate granting procedure and come up with a logo.
Nguyen Cong Thanh, head of the Institute of Agricultural Science for Southern Viet Nam, said that since 2011 domestic consumption didn't have a separate channel; traders just bought GAP products on the same market as non-GAP products.
Dong Ngoc Lieu, head of Than Cuu Nghia Co-operative in Southern Tien Giang Province, told the Cong Thuong (Industrial and Trade) newspaper that the co-operative had more than 300ha of vegetables while "safe" vegetables accounted for just 8ha.
The cost of safe vegetable production was quite high, while prices of GAP products were not higher than non-GAP ones and were sometimes lower.
"Meanwhile some supermarkets didn't buy safe vegetables due to high prices, so farmers had to sell their safe vegetables in the market," Lieu said.
Currently, products are only certified VietGAP generally. The authorities have not yet adhered to a trademark (logo) for VietGap products. So producers cannot show customers the products are VietGap. Conversely, consumers do not have evidence the products are VietGap products. The shape of VietGAP products are similar to other ordinary products on the market.
Gap products with the safety certification logo VietGAP had been seen as a passport to entering the domestic market and expanding the export market, introducing innovation and process improvements to increase product competitiveness, Lieu said.
Issuing logos and their management must be controlled tightly to avoid fakes, Thanh said.
"Developing GAP standards in producing agriculture should link many more stakeholders including bank, mass media, buyers, traders, co-operatives and enterprises to help stabilise output for GAP products," he said.
"The authorities should raise the awareness of health protection of people who use safe vegetables."
The Prime Minister also issued Decision No 01/2012/QD-TTg in January about supporting farmers to apply the GAP standard.
The Government will provide 100 per cent of the capital needed to survey agricultural cultivation and 50 per cent of costs to build facilities and will help train employers and support a one-time GAP certificate free of charge. — VNS