|A field is left barren due to drought in Thuan Nam District in the southern province of Ninh Thuan. The impacts of the El Nino phenomenon have seriously affected cultivation and fishery, two areas that contribute greatly to the agriculture sector's growth. — VNA/VNS Photo Trong Dat
HA NOI (VNS) — The agricultural sector is expected to grow 2.21 per cent in 2015, a drop of 1.4 per cent since 2014 and the lowest rise in five years, said Nguyen Thi Hong, head of the agriculture and rural development ministry's Planning Department.
However, its average growth in 2011-15 is likely to reach 3.1 per cent, exceeding its target of 2.6-3 per cent, she noted during a conference last week.
Meanwhile, the 2015 agro-forestry and fishery export turnover is estimated at US$30 billion, equivalent to 96.7 per cent of the set target. Products that enjoy over $1 billion in export value include rice, coffee, rubber, peppercorn, cashew, cassava, fruit, wood and wooden products, shrimp and tra fish.
According to Hong, two main difficulties facing the sector are weather and the market. Impacts of the El Nino phenomenon have seriously affected cultivation and fishery, two areas contributing greatly to the whole sector's growth.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the weather in 2015 has been harsh, impacting the lives of people throughout the country.
Flooding and flash floods in the north, severe droughts in some south central provinces, and high levels of salt water in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have had a negative impact on crop production and the lives of local residents.
Statistics indicate that the total area of both winter and summer-autumn rice crops in the north has declined, as compared to last year, due to unfavourable weather conditions. Further, this year's rice harvest is expected to reach 5.84 million tonnes, a drop of 1 per cent against 2014, while the cultivation area for other winter crops reached only 86.4 per cent, as compared to last year.
Additionally, tra (cat) fish breeding areas in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are smaller, whereas the price of fresh-water prawns continue to fall.
Pham Khanh Ly, deputy head of MARD's Portal Directorate of Fisheries, said this year's harvest suffered due to increased heat and sea water salinity, and the directorate has instructed localities to begin breeding shrimps and prawns one month earlier than usual, in a bid to avoid the heat.
At the same time, recent fluctuations of the US dollar exchange rate in many countries have influenced agro-forestry-fishery exports because the US dollar is the main means of payment, Hong from the Planning Department said.
"It made Viet Nam's goods more expensive and unable to compete with goods from other countries such as Thailand and China," said Hong.
Although the State Bank of Viet Nam has depreciated the Viet Nam dong against the US dollar, the adjustment still failed to keep pace with the devaluation of other currencies, especially the Chinese yuan and euro, making Vietnamese agricultural products less competitive in terms of prices in foreign markets.
In addition, many markets have increased technical barriers, including food safety regulations and non-tariff barriers, creating more difficulties for Vietnamese farm produce, she added.
Between now and the year's end, a number of measures will be rolled out to expand the market and remove difficulties for production and exports, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The steering committee for the agricultural market will evaluate the supply and demand of key products to propose measures to develop the rice market in the rest of the year.
Nguyen Nhu Tiep, director of the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department under the MARD, predicted that the demand of agricultural products could continue to decrease until the middle of next year.
Experts at the conference agreed that in the last two months of this year, the MARD should join associations and enterprises to assess the real situation of agricultural, forestry and aquatic products to propose suitable measures.
The MARD would check the process of manufacturing and then set up necessary policies to raise the products' value.
Ministry to grant Golden Rice Awards
HA NOI — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) will give out Viet Nam's Golden Rice Awards for a second time tomorrow in Ha Noi.
The awards will be given to 80 outstanding enterprises and individuals this year.
At the ceremony, the MARD will also give the title "Enterprises for Farmers" for 100 enterprises that have made a large contribution in developing the agricultural sector.
Viet Nam's Golden Rice Awards are given every three years for individuals and enterprises having products that meet the MARD's quality norms. — VNS