Viet Nam News
Nguyễn Xuân Hồng, former head of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Department talks with Nông Thôn Ngày Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper about issues regarding the use of plant protection products in Việt Nam.
According to the General Administration of Customs, in the first 6 months of the year, Việt Nam spent US$346 million on importing raw materials and plant protection chemicals. Nearly 50 per cent of plant protection chemicals and materials are imported from China.
Many people are worried about the fact that the country imports so many hazardous chemicals. What’s your opinion on the issue?
Over the past five years, Việt Nam has spent about US$500 million annually on importing plant protection products. Of these, herbicides accounted for 50 per cent, pesticides for 25 per cent, other chemicals to resist other diseases on plants for 20 per cent and the rest is made up of chemicals to stimulate growth.
Each year, Việt Nam uses about 70,000 tonnes of finished products on the fields. Recently, Vietnamese enterprises imported most materials for plant protection from China, accounting for between 85 and 90 percent. It is due to the fact that China is the biggest producer of plant protection chemicals.
The enterprises import the material not only for consumption in Việt Nam but also re-export to other countries. For example, 80 per cent of plant protection products in Cambodia came from Việt Nam. That’s the reason why the country imports more plant protection chemicals and materials.
Could you give some remarks on the use of plant protection products in Viet Nam in the past few years?
A lot of enterprises who engage in the trading of plant protection products said the sales of these products were not good over the past few years. Due to declining sales on the domestic market, they had to import more raw materials to mix with other chemicals and sell to foreign markets.
Personally I found that the prevalence of pests on plants has been on the decline over the past five years. Farmers seemed to have more awareness on the application of plant protection chemicals in their production so they use less.
Many people are concerned that while Western European countries have long been saying no to the plant protection products as they are toxic, Việt Nam still regards them as effective measures to protect crops. What do you think about it?
No country in the world avoids using plant protection products. Developed countries in Europe and Japan still use chemicals to protect crops but the difference is that they use the correct dose of chemicals and follow strict procedures.
Any plant protection chemicals put on the permitted list of plant protection products in Viet Nam was calculated carefully. Việt Nam will not use chemicals that were banned by other countries or with warnings from international organisations.
What’s your assessment on the quality of material for plant protection products that Vietnamese enterprises import from China?
In general, materials imported from any country permitted for use in Việt Nam must meet the quality requirements of the country, except for the illegal import of products not on permitted lists. The products imported through official trade routes still ensure that quality.
Many people believe that the actual amount of plant protection raw materials imported into Việt Nam must be higher due to smuggling. However, it’s not true as the tax imposed on raw materials for plant protection products currently is zero, ruling smuggling out.
Many people are wondering why we import many raw materials, while Việt Nam enterprises produce them by themselves. Could you give some comments?
The chemical industry in Việt Nam cannot compete with other countries in the region and it’s not our strength so we shouldn’t invest in this kind of product. Meanwhile, we shouldn’t encourage domestic enterprises to produce them as they are toxic substances.
What’s your view on the use of plant protection products by farmers in the past few years?
People’s awareness about the use of plant protection chemicals has improved in recent years. It is attributed to the fact that many localities have set up agricultural promotion projects and applied good agricultural practices and there was an improvement in anti-disease prevention.
It is hoped that the knowledge and awareness of farmers will be further enhanced in the future, along with the dissemination on how to use crop protection products properly and more and more businesses invest in the agriculture sector. – VNS