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VietNamNews

Pesticide abuse raises food safety concerns

Update: January, 31/2015 - 09:11
There are 139 pesticide manufacturers and 230 trading companies specialising in pesticides and a network of more than 32,000 retailers and 37 plant quarantine organisations across the country. — Photo hanoimoi

HA NOI (VNS) — Widespread abuse of pesticides was undermining food safety in the country, participants said at a conference on plant protection held in the capital city on Thursday.

They said that the agriculture sector should prioritise curbing this abuse, which has also polluted the environment and reduced cost-efficiency of agricultural production in the country.

Conference speakers also stressed the need to tighten food market regulations, provide incentives to apply scientific and technological advancements in agricultural production, and encourage farmers to follow food safety protocols.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said that improving the safety of agricultural products remained the most important objective for the nation's plant protection sub-sector this year.

He also said effective use and control of pesticides was crucial for the agricultural sector to boost exports in 2015.

Conference participants noted that farmers tended to spend a lot of money on different brands of pesticides when crops were under attack by insects or diseases, increasing their input costs and causing avoidable wastage.

There are 139 pesticide manufacturers and 230 trading companies specialising in pesticides and a network of more than 32,000 retailers and 37 plant quarantine organisations across the country.

A recent inspection carried out by the Plant Protection Department found 1,704 pesticide retailers (13.8 per cent of the total number inspected) committing various violations including operating without a business licence, unsatisfactory storage facilities, and selling counterfeit as well as expired products.

Deputy head of the Plant Protection Department, Hoang Trung, said Viet Nam's plant quarantine procedures had undergone major administrative reforms and several barriers removed as the Government aimed to further boost agricultural products export.

Agriculture exports last year totalled US$31 billion. Of the ten products that exceeded the $1 billion export mark, seven were agricultural crops.

Trung said the sector would continue taking steps to improve production and quality of products. It would also strive to strengthen its position in traditional export markets while looking for new ones, he added.

Nguyen Thanh Liem, deputy director of Vinh Long Province's department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the nation was in the middle of an agricultural restructuring process and plant protection activities must be adjusted accordingly.

A major part of agricultural restructuring was identifying and developing crops that offer greater economic value. However, with the exception of rice, a system for forecasting disease forecasting had not been implemented for other high-yield crops, he said.

Head of the Plant Protection Department Nguyen Xuan Hong said an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) project for the 2015-20 period had been approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It aimed to reduce production costs and minimise environmental pollution caused by agricultural production, he said. — VNS

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