The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has resolved to improve farmers' livelihoods, Minister Cao Duc Phat told Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today)
The livelihood of farmers has not improved much though their agricultural productivity has increased. This could be considered a failure of the agriculture sector. How do you respond to that comment?
The production productivity of farmers' is controlled by two factors, the market and the agriculture materials. So if we want them to benefits, we have to expand traditional markets while developing new ones. At the same time, we have to help farmers to access good quality agriculture material at low prices. However, in reality, much of the agriculture materials we supply to farmers are of low quality. Statistics released by the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) showed that during their inspection missions, 78.1 per cent of agricultural manufacturing and business enterprises were rated A and B while 21.9 per cent were rated C. Several months later, NAFIQAD conducted a second inspection of the enterprises of the C group, and still gave 57.9 per cent of them a C rating. NAFIQAD's reports also raised an alarm about the low quality of agricultural material sold to the farmers. It is high time we take action!
Who should take responsibility for such poor quality agricultural material?
Though we have identified which of the enterprises or businesses produced or supplied low quality agricultural materials, not much progress has been made in this regard. This has caused anxiety among farmers. For your information, in the last few months MARD had ordered a temporary halt to field trials of new agricultural material. However, we cannot afford to stop field trials anymore.
As a result, on July 1, I gave the order to resume field trials, but with much stricter controls. A philosophy in the management of agricultural material is to not encourage enterprises to sell to farmers what they already have. They are only allowed to sell to farmers what they think are of high quality and will benefit the farmers. It is strictly prohibited for enterprises to make a profit off the farmers. In addition, the management of agricultural material cannot simply be calculated on economic results. It must also ensure food safety and help promote exports. Pesticide residues and micro-organisms detected in some of our agricultural products have become an acute problem prohibiting us from exporting them.
In some localities, farmers still apply stimulants or banned chemicals on vegetables or fruits. Such acts have upset people. Do you have any plan to stop the reckless use of such lethal chemicals?
I think what worries people the most is the high amounts of pesticides in agricultural products, particularly vegetables. If you ask me whether the 14 million households growing vegetables for themselves, use stimulant chemicals or spray pesticides on their vegetables, the answer is no. They only spray the chemicals on commercial vegetables/fruits. These are then sold in Ha Noi and HCM City. So the first thing we have to do is to tighten our management control in farms around the two cities as the consumption of the two cities accounts for almost 70 per cent of the vegetable consumption nationwide. I have ordered the Department of Crop Production Department to be the focal point in this mission.
What will happen to manufacturing enterprises and firms which are graded C?
By June 23, we had received reports from 39 of the 63 provinces and cities nationwide. These stated that of the 3,751 enterprises that were inspected, 817 had violated the law. Meanwhile, the Plant Protection Department (PPD) also inspected 1,939 shops and authorised dealers, and found 123 cases of violations in selling of dangerous chemicals. During their inspections, officials from the PPD checked 47 samples and found 6.38 per cent of them were of low quality. — VNS