|Farmers plant flowers in Hoa Phuoc Commune, Hoa Vang District in the central city of Da Nang. Public expenditure on small farmers seems inadequate to address food security. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HA NOI (VNS)— Despite many State policies and programmes for the agriculture sector, public expenditure on small and marginal farmers seems inadequate to address the problems of food security and hunger.
This was the conclusion reached at a workshop in Ha Noi by a study team from the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Jawaharlal Nehru University of India and Action Aid Vietnam.
Their study looked at Vietnamese agriculture in the context of global integration, which is the link between public investment on Vietnamese small holders (households with less than two hectares of land) and food security as well as sustainable development.
The study's survey covered small-scale farming households in 14 villages of seven communes across four provinces in Viet Nam which are northern provinces of Cao Bang and Ha Giang, southern province Vinh Long, and Central Highlands province Dak Lak.
The workshop participants including policy makers, economists and officers from the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Finance, and Planning and Investment appreciated the results as they contribute to the compilation and implementation of State policies on agriculture and rural area development.
According to economic professor Praveen Jha from Jawaharlal Nehru University, there is a significant gap between the percentage of Vietnamese people knowing about governmental price support and the real number of farmers accessing to it.
Taking together the averages of households surveyed in these provinces, 47.3 per cent of the households were aware of the support while only 18.2 per cent of the households made use of it.
There is a lack of awareness among smallholder farmers regarding available public provisions, researchers said.
Another significant figure revealed at the workshop was the agricultural income of the surveyed households. It turns out to be around US$0.77 per person each day, which is, according to Jha, well below the international poverty line of $1.25 per person per day.
Jha said that the low level of income has serious consequences in terms of poverty, under nutrition and posed severe implications on food security.
"They (the farmers) feed the world, they remain hungry," he said.
As many as 19 per cent of Viet Nam's population, most of which live in rural areas, still suffer from a lack of adequate food, food security indicators from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on 22nd October this year indicated. About 10 per cent of the country's population is undernourished.
Nguyen Anh Duong, one of the researchers from CIEM, affirmed that the integration into the global economy is a driving force for agricultural development while what promotes growth is definitely public investment.
The main challenges for public provision in Viet Nam are how to create a foundation and encourage the participation of the private sector and citizens' organisations in upgrading agricultural infrastructure, in addition to maintaining the involvement of small farmers, and meeting practical demands of agriculture, rural areas and farmers, he said.
The government should recognise the individual as well as the collective rights of the smallholders to organise democratically and to participate in the policy debate and raise their concerns to protect their interests with a balanced representation, Jha suggested.
There is a dire need to formulate a support price mechanism so that farmers can get appropriate returns on their agricultural output, he added. — VNS