Harvesting cabbages in Kinh Môn Town, Hải Dương Province. Photo nld.com.vn
Hoàng Hà, Bảo Hoa, Vân Nguyễn & Dương Huy
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is working to connect enterprises and localities facing COVID-19 outbreaks to ensure goods are consumed, especially agricultural produce in virus-hit areas.
After Hải Dương applied social distancing across the province from February 16, the ministry worked with major distribution systems in the north such as Central Group (Big C and Go! supermarket chains), Vincommerce (Vinmart and Vinmart + chains), BRG Retail (BRG Mart supermarket chain), and MM Mega Market chain to purchase agricultural products from farmers, co-operatives and enterprises of Hải Dương, the ministry said on Monday.
So far, Central Group has purchased 100 tonnes of vegetables and fruits per week from the province for consumption in its retail system. The volume is expected to increase to 200 tonnes per week soon.
This week, its GO! and Big C outlets in the North will consume about 70 tonnes of Hải Dương's agricultural products and will increase the sales until the end of the season, the group said.
MM Mega Market Vietnam has ordered 24.3 tonnes of vegetables per day from Hải Dương, including kohlrabi, cabbage and guava for its distribution systems in the central and southern regions. Vinmart has also ordered some agricultural produce.
The ministry has also worked with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, localities and enterprises to discuss solutions to remove difficulties in transportation and consumption of goods, especially agricultural products with a large output and in the harvest season, especially in Hải Dương and neighbouring provinces, it said.
According to the Hải Dương Department of Industry and Trade, most COVID-19 control stations in neighbouring provinces and cities have restricted entry from vehicles going from or through Hải Dương, leaving agricultural produce stuck and impacting farmers' livelihoods.
Localities and enterprises have complained that the implementation of the requirement for COVID-19 testing in transporting goods has many inconsistencies, leading to difficulties in consuming agricultural produce.
Difficulties transporting commodities has also affected production in the province and also other localities like Hà Nội, Hải Phòng and Quảng Ninh because many commodities in Hải Dương are materials for processing chains at factories in the localities, according to the ministry. That will also affect the socio-economic development of many localities.
Trần Thị Phương Lan, acting director of the Hà Nội Department of Industry and Trade, said distribution systems in Hà Nội are making efforts to support Hải Dương to consume agricultural produce, averaging about 100 tonnes per week.
Meanwhile, Hải Dương is implementing many measures to facilitate the transportation of agricultural produce in the harvest season.
Over the past three days, the province has prioritised the implementation of COVID-19 testing for truck drivers and returned the results within 24 hours to accelerate goods transportation, according to Hải Dương Provincial Party Secretary Phạm Xuân Thắng.
On February 21, Hải Dương Provincial People's Committee Chairman Nguyễn Dương Thái sent a letter to Hải Phòng City People's Committee to ask for permission to transport commodities from Hải Dương to Hải Phòng.
To facilitate the fastest transportation of goods, especially agricultural produce and frozen goods, Hải Phòng City People's Committee was asked to allow trucks with drivers with proof of a negative SAR-COV-2 test result issued by the Hải Dương Centre for Disease Control to go to the quarantine areas between Hải Dương and Hải Phòng. After that, the driver in Hải Phòng will drive that truck into this city, reported the Người lao động (The Labourer) newspaper.
According to Hải Dương Agriculture and Rural Development Department, about 4,080ha of crops with a productivity of about 90,760 tonnes are going to be harvested including more than 55,000 tonnes of onions, 50,000 tonnes of carrots and 8,000 tonnes of cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower and leafy vegetables.
Trần Văn Quân, director of the Hải Dương Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that farmers in Đức Chính Commune, Cẩm Giàng District had harvested more than 48,000 tonnes of carrots.
However, social distancing in Hải Dương had made it tough to transport the carrots from Đức Chính to ports in Hải Phòng.
Besides that, the pandemic had caused many localities to stop transporting agricultural products, including carrots, to Đức Chính, for processing and packaging. — VNS
Help from the capital
Hà Nội residents are doing their best to help farmers in Hải Dương.
Some have sent trucks to collect the farm produce and sold it at low prices in the capital.
Business owner Ngô Thanh Thủy, 42, and her family have been selling tonnes of vegetables in the last few days on the side of Giải Phóng Street.
Products such as carrots sell for as cheap as VNĐ7,000 (3 US cents) per kilogramme.
"We have been doing this for four to five days, each day we have 45 to 50 tonnes," Thủy told Việt Nam News.
"We were worried about the risks of infection. But it’s really sad when we think about farm produce abandoned.
"The Government has done great work controlling the pandemic. Our trucks had to go through 11 checkpoints to get to Hà Nội. At each checkpoint, the truck was disinfected and required to stay there for 30 minutes before moving on."
She expected nothing in return, Thủy added.
"I just hope Hải Dương people try their best and will overcome the pandemic very soon."
Trần Tiến Thành, a volunteer, said people living nearby also came out to help sell the vegetables.
"Everyone in the neighbourhood came and helped because this is a community event," he said. "Each person offers a helping hand. We came and divided the work for everyone to help the people from the quarantined area.
"The majority of the people here are very supportive of the event. Be it taking the shipments down or helping to sell them."
Customers are also happy because their purchases help farmers in need.
Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh, 62, from Hai Bà Trưng District, said: "The vegetables' quality is great because all of them are quite fresh. Yesterday, I bought cabbages and they were very fresh like they had been harvested just recently."
"I think this action is meaningful," she added. "The people in Hải Dương have suffered much. Being a farmer is already hard enough and then the COVID-19 came back."
Nguyễn Kim Thành, 30, from Thanh Trì District said: "Things here are cheaper than in markets. I buy these to help farmers so I don’t care much whether they are cheap or expensive. I hope I can help a little bit those hit by the pandemic."