Bright prospects for Hoà Bình agricultural commodities in UK market

September 10, 2022 - 09:47
It is very likely for the mountainous province’s agricultural commodities to be on shelves in the United Kingdom’s supermarkets, especially after the UKVFTA took effect.
Kim Bôi's bamboo shoot products displayed on a basket at a WinMart supermarrket in Hà Nội. VNS Photo Lyly Cao

By Ly Ly Cao

HÒA BÌNH — As one of the leading provinces in the pursuit of clean agricultural production, Hoà Bình is witnessing growth of a number of products that meet the requirements of difficult markets such as Japan and the European Union (EU).

Therefore, it is very likely the mountainous province’s agricultural commodities will be on supermarket shelves in the UK, especially after the bilateral deal between the two countries, or the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA), took effect.

At the end of 2020, the People's Committee of Hoà Bình Province issued a decision approving the project "Development of export markets for key agricultural products in Hoà Bình Province in the 2020-2025 period," aiming at boosting growth and economic restructuring, and attracting investment in the province.

Developing export markets for key agricultural products will help accelerate the province’s agricultural export turnovers, and strengthen the reputation and position of Hoà Bình’s farm commodities and Vietnamese agricultural products in general.

Currently, the province has provided certifications for more than 4,000 ha of plants meeting food safety conditions, VietGap standards, and organic standards. Of which, 3,373 ha are for citrus fruit trees, 561 ha for vegetables, and 152 ha for other crops.

There are some typical models such as Skyfarm Co. in Lương Sơn District, which is specialised in exporting tomatoes; Trường Thịnh High Technology Agriculture Investments, which plants cantaloupes; and Vietnam Organic Farm JSC in Lạc Thuỷ District.

In addition, there are more commercial farms and cooperatives following VietGAP and food safety standards.

Statistics from the Hoà Bình Department of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that, until now, it has issued VietGAP and food safety certifications for over 1,940 fish cages and 22 livestock facilities. Particularly, three breeding facilities have cooperated with backyard farms to raise pigs in a closed-loop model and supply them to the market, with an output of about 19,500 tonnes of meat per year.

Speaking at the regular press conference of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in early September, Phùng Đức Tiến, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the industry continued to restructure and head toward extensive production.

"It is the agricultural economic thinking that has taken root in production, reflected in the fact that before the producer brought to the market what he had, now he is selling what the market needs," he said.

At the moment, many agricultural commodities of the mountainous province, like bananas, tea, bamboo shoots, and sugarcane, are not only to serve domestic demands but also to ship into other markets.

Last November, the mountainous province exported 10 tonnes of sugarcane to a partner in Hamburg, Germany. The batch of sugarcane products was produced by Tùng Dương Agricultural and Forestry Service Cooperative in Tân Lạc District.

Meanwhile, Kim Bôi JSC exported more than 10 containers with a volume of about 280 tonnes of fresh bamboo shoots and dried vermicelli to numerous markets, worth more than VNĐ100 billion (US$4.2 million), creating jobs for more than 100 local workers.

The company’s products, such as buds of bamboo shoots, ready-made bamboo shoots, sour bamboo shoots, or dried bamboo shoots, have been sold to many markets such as the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Angola.

These are positive signals for the province’s agricultural industry, as there are more high-quality agricultural products meeting fastidious market standards.

A farmer harvesting longan. VNA/VNS Photo

In August, a tonne of fresh longan from Sơn Thuỷ Agricultural Service Cooperative, Xuân Thuỷ Commune, was shipped to Europe.

The National Office of Intellectual Property granted Sơn Thuỷ longan a collective trademark in 2016, followed by numerous food safety certificates in 2016, VietGap in 2019, and OCOP (One Commune-One Product) in 2020.

It is also the first product of the province to be granted a growing area code in 2019, which is considered a passport for the product to be officially exported to the international market, including the EU.

The Hoà Bình Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said that Sơn Thuỷ longan growers have strictly followed all the technical requirements set by the EU market for fresh fruit and vegetable products since 2019.

The results of the analysis at the EU-designated laboratory revealed that three samples of Sơn Thủy longan met 821 criteria of the EU's food safety inspection standards.

Even though the UK has left the EU and set its own conformity mark, the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA), meeting the requirements of the EU will very likely open a door for Hoà Bình Province's agricultural products in the UK market, especially after the UKVFTA.

Under the treaty, some Vietnamese agricultural commodities, including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, enjoy duty-free entry into the UK.

In August, Việt Nam exported $20 million worth of farm products to the UK, an increase of nearly 2.1 per cent year-on-year, according to a Việt Nam News calculation based on data from the General Department of Việt Nam Customs. For the first eight months of the year, the country shipped $171 million in agricultural commodities to the UK, up 33.1 per cent over last year. — VNS