|Farm produce on sale at the biggest wholesale market in Tay Ninh Province. A recent forum shows that there is an increase in demand for farm produce in both the domestic and export markets. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Hoanh
CAN THO (VNS) — An expected increase in demand for farm produce offers the agricultural sector in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta great potential for development, but it should improve its efficiency, panellists told a forum in Can Tho City last Friday.
Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade and former chairman of Saigon Co.op, said there was an increase in demand for farm produce in both the domestic and export markets.
In addition, consumers, increasingly concerned about food safety and hygiene and the traceability of products' origins, are willing to pay higher prices for safe products.
Nguyen Lam Vien, deputy chairman of the Business Association of High Quality Vietnamese Products and chairman of Vinamit Company, said, "The market needs high-quality produce but there is a scarcity of these products."
With their small-scale production, farmers in the Mekong Delta had limited market information and mostly crop based on traders' requirements. They only managed to get a small percentage of retail prices, he said.
Breaking down this "trader" culture and helping farmers deploy efficient practices to improve quality were very important, he added.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha, deputy director of the Thu Duc Agriculture Wholesale Market Management and Trade Company, said her market got 3,500-4,500 tonnes of farm produce each night, and up to 7,500 tonnes during Lunar New Year.
But most products were sold without labels and were piled up for selling, and this should be improved to win consumers' trust, she said.
Farmers should join hands to form co-operatives to work with businesses so that they could get technical support easily as well as fair prices and reduce the cost of transporting their produce to sales points, she said.
Investment to mechanise farming and processing was very important, delegates agreed.
To resolve difficulties related to selling paddy, Nguyen Minh Toai, director of the Can Tho Department of Industry and Trade, said, "We should set up a rice trading floor by encouraging farmers to form a co-operative to grow the same kind of rice with the same production process to enable traceability."
The authorities could offer free drying and storage of paddy allowing the farmers to wait for the best prices to sell, he said.
This would benefit both farmers and businesses, and even the Government, because when this model achieved a large-scale, the Government no longer had to resort to rice buying to shore up prices, he said.
"Measures to raise value of farm produce and boost their consumption" was part of the Mekong Connect-CEO Forum that attracted the participation of 600 business executives, Government officials and experts.
The Mekong Delta's 13 cities and provinces play an important role in the country's economy, accounting for 17.8 per cent of GDP, 80 per cent of rice exports, and nearly 60 per cent seafood exports. — VNS