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Agriculture firm offers farmers shareholder status

Update: April, 21/2014 - 08:24

AGPPS said this time it plans to sell 1.8 million shares to 1,724 farmers in the delta again at VND30,000. — Photo dddn

HCM CITY (VNS) — Truong Van Bon, a farmer in An Giang Province who bought 1,500 shares of the An Giang Plant Protection Joint Stock Company (AGPPS), cannot believe that a farmer like him is an owner of a large company.

He spent many nights thinking about it before deciding to invest VND45 million (US$2,130) to buy "a paper," as he called the preference shares, because he did not know anything about stocks.

The unlisted company, which pioneered the large-scale rice production model in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta by linking up many farmers' small holdings, sold its shares to farmers who are members at VND30,000, or half the market price.

Bon said: "However, I trust in AGPPS since its linking model in rice production has brought results to farmers. Therefore farmers desired to have a long-term attachment with the company."

Le Van Nhut, another rice farmer in An Giang, said the company's production model promises sustainable development.

It has solved for farmers the problems of what kind of rice variety to plant and where to sell, enabling them to feel more secure, he said.

For instance, rice prices dropped in many places after the recent winter-spring crop harvest, but farmers participating in the company's programme still enjoyed a profit of at least VND30-35 million ($1,420-$1,657) per hectare, he said.

"Therefore, when AGPPS sold preferential shares to farmers, my family bravely spent VND300 million ($12,200) to buy 10,000 shares," he said.

Bon and Nhut are among thousands of farmers in the delta who had for the first time an opportunity to become shareholders of the country's leading agricultural company.

AGPPS said this time it plans to sell 1.8 million shares to 1,724 farmers in the delta again at VND30,000.

For several years now it has been providing technology and inputs to farmers and buying their produce.

Huynh Van Thon, the company's chairman and general director, told Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper: "From now on, farmers have the right to determine the price of their produce, a thing that has never happened before."

Dr Vo Tong Xuan, an agricultural expert, hailed the company's programme, saying that after harvests farmers would now sell their paddy to the company and not intermediaries, and would no longer face price pressures.

Vo Van Dung, secretary of the Bac Lieu Province Party Committee, said AGPPS's rice production model has seen "high acceptance in many quarters."

It is an advanced model, resolving difficulties faced by farmers and the agricultural sector and ushering in modern rice production, he said.

Experts said if more rice production models like this are developed, strict oversight is possible, leading to improved rice yields and quality and lower production costs. More rice of the same varieties can be grown, making it easy for the industry to build brands and increase the value of Vietnamese rice. — VNS

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