Workers of Vina T&T Import-Export Company process fresh coconut in its factory in Kim Thành District, Bến Tre Province. Social distancing regulations are pulling the productivity of the firm. — Photo courtesy of the firm
HÀ NỘI — Amid strict social distancing across the country, leaders of the agriculture industry told all localities to help facilitate both agricultural production and the trading and circulation of products and not to disrupt the supply in the near future.
At the online meeting, set up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to connect suppliers and buyers of agro products, Lê Thanh Tùng, deputy director of the Department of Crop Production, said: “700,000 hectares of summer-autumn rice or 3.8 million tonnes of rice will be harvested in the southern provinces in August when about 1.1 million tonnes of vegetables and fruits from both the Mekong Delta and Lâm Đồng will also be harvested. However, the regional consumption demand is only about 500,000 tonnes.”
Tùng told the meeting they should make plans to sell the rest in other regions as well as consider exporting. There were about 640,000 tonnes of mango, banana, dragon fruit, durian, grapefruit, orange, longan, pineapple and jackfruit due to be harvested this month, so markets needed to be found.
According to Tùng, the period from May to August is not the busiest time for harvesting for most fruit trees in the southern provinces and the output is low. However, as consumption was slowing down in some places due to congestion in the transportation stage, there may be problems moving forward.
Nguyễn Chí Thiện deputy director of southern Long An Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said that because of social distancing travel restrictions the province is running out of labourers to harvest rice as well as rice traders. The freight force of local cooperatives still faced difficulties in testing for COVID-19 too.
Thiện said even for people who have COVID-19 test certificates they are only valid for 72 hours, it is difficult for them to transport dragon fruit to the north as their certificates will expire in the middle of the journey.
Long An has proposed the Ministry of Transport implement quick test points along the way to mitigate this problem.
Trương Kiến Thọ, deputy director of An Giang’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that there were thousands of hectares of rice to be harvested but there were less and less traders and farmers had no warehouses to store their rice.
Thọ said: "Agricultural production activities should be considered essential and should be prioritised. If farmers stop production, it will delay the crop, affecting both the quality and output in the future so relevant groups should consider solutions for farmers to work and traders to trade under the social distancing directive.”
Võ Quân Huy, director of Huy Long An Co., Ltd said that if Việt Nam does not focus on maintaining production, the supply chain will be interrupted within the next two months. In addition, the circulation of agricultural production materials must be more open so as not to interrupt production activities.
Nguyễn Đình Tùng, general director of Vina T&T Import-Export Company said the fixed time from 6 am to 6 pm to work outdoors was a problem, adding that farmers harvest from 4 am until 6.30 am to fit in with the nature of the work. Currently, his productivity is only about 20 to 30 per cent of what it was before.
Tùng whose company specialises in exporting fresh fruits to the US, Australia and Canada added: “If the fresh fruit can not be picked up on schedule, it will affect the whole export shipment and the fruit quality. Previously, businesses could process and export a few containers of fruit every day, but now it takes many days to complete a container, incurring a lot of extra costs."
MARD Deputy Minister Trần Thanh Nam said as agricultural products are now abundant and there is an oversupply of some products, “it is important to focus on smoother transportation,” adding it was not only to meet the needs of consumption in each region, but also to connect with other regional supply chains to export.
Nam said in some localities with complicated COVID-19 developments, epidemic control had to be prioritised, leading to bottlenecks in the supply, circulation and distribution of agricultural products.
At the meeting, MARD suggested leaders of all cities and provinces do their best to facilitate the stable production and speedy circulation of agricultural commodities.
In the first half of 2021, Việt Nam’s agricultural sector earned US$24.23 billion from exports, an increase of 28.2 per cent compared to that of the same period last year.— VNS