|A farmer waters his safe vegetables in Tam Phu Ward, HCM City. The municipal agriculture department plans to expand the application of VietGap standards to 1,730ha, or 50 per cent of the city's vegetable gardens, by 2015. — VNA/VNS Photo Pham Do
HCM CITY (VNS)— The municipal agriculture department plans to expand application of Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) standards to 1,730ha, or 50 per cent of the city's vegetable gardens, by 2015.
Le Minh Dung, deputy director of the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, told a forum organised recently in HCM City that by then, 30 per cent of vegetable gardens in the city are expected to have VietGap certification.
All vegetables and fruits sold in the city markets must comply with hygiene and food safety regulations by 2015, Dung said.
He said that as of last year, the city had 102 communes and wards producing vegetables with a total cultivation area of 3,630ha, an increase of 150ha from 2010.
Over the past several years, the city has issued policies to encourage application of safe production methods like VietGAP in growing vegetables as part of the programme to restructure its agricultural sector, he said.
However, as of today, just 145.7ha of vegetable gardens have VietGap certification.
The city has encountered many difficulties in growing vegetables following VietGap standards due to small-scale production and the lack of capital to upgrade infrastructure, which is required under the national standard, he said.
Besides, there are no stable outlets for VietGAP produce and the difference between prices of normal and VietGAP-certified vegetables is not high enough to encourage farmers to apply the national standard, he said.
The lack of a logo for VietGap certified vegetables has made it difficult for consumers to identify the safer vegetables from normal ones, he added.
Dung said "the city plans to take many measures to encourage vegetable cultivation with safe production methods."
The city People's Committee last March approved a zoning plan for safe vegetable production until 2020, so relevant agencies should quickly implement it, he said.
"The city will step up research to produce vegetable seedlings with high productivity that can grow well locally. It will also focus more on technology transfer, establish safe vegetable production models, especially cultivation of organic vegetables, to raise production efficiency and incomes for farmers."
Strengthening trade promotion, providing farmers with market information in a timely manner and supporting them in building safe vegetable trademarks are among other measures that the city will take in the coming time, Dung said.
He said the city will step up food safety inspections of fruits and vegetables, and co-ordinate with other provinces and cities to boost production and sales of safe vegetables.
Vo Ngoc Anh of the HCM City Agriculture Extension Centre said that they would organise more training courses to instruct farmers on application of GAP in vegetable production.
Dung suggested that the Government issue a decree on quality checks of farm produce at wholesale markets and quickly come up with a logo for VietGap to help consumers choose the safer when they buy vegetables. — VNS