Phùng Đức Tiến, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
Phùng Đức Tiến, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, speaks to Nông thôn Ngày nay (Countryside today) newspaper on his ministry’s efforts to fight the swine fever epidemic.
In your recent inspection mission to the northern province of Bắc Giang, you saw many dead pigs in the river. Were you shocked to see the scene?
During that mission I went to Hoàng An Commune in Hiệp Hòa District. I was really shocked to see dead pigs flowing in the river between Bắc Giang and Thái Nguyên Provinces. I’m pretty sure that the African swine fever virus from the dead pigs would spread downstream and contaminate the water.
Seeing the scene, I reported it to Bắc Giang provincial authorities. About an hour later, some officials from the Bắc Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development arrived and the dead pigs were collected and buried.
Through my inspection visit, wherever I went, all localities complained about their shortage of personnel, particularly veterinarians. This is important for authorities to think about.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said “we should consider the fight against African swine fever as a fight against the enemy.”
Right now we don’t have vaccines for swine fever. So, everyone should pool their efforts to stop the swine fever epidemic. And what’s more, anyone who is found deliberately spreading swine fever will be punished. In serious cases, even criminal punishments will be applied.
More recently bio-security has been applied in animal husbandry while more research on swine fever has been conducted. Is this good news for the agriculture sector?
African swine fever has been reported in 62 of 63 provinces and cities nationwide. According to the latest reports, more than 4 million pigs have been destroyed. This is a big loss to our primary agriculture production.
With lessons learned from the epidemic, many pig farmers have realised the most important principle in the animal husbandry industry, particularly in pig rearing, is to strictly comply with bio-security rules.
And we hope pretty soon we’ll have a vaccine against African swine fever.
What should Việt Nam do in the course of restructuring its husbandry industry?
Some 2.4 million Vietnamese households are engaged in the husbandry industry with a very small scale.
Việt Nam is now a signatory to many Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) sees the need to re-structure the industry so it suits the world market’s demand.
The MARD has instructed the Animal Health Department and all localities nationwide to co-operate with enterprises to develop some 740 production chains following the principle of ‘from farm to fork’.
According to the plan, by early 2020, the Law on Animal Husbandry will come into force.
Do you think that all targets set for the animal husbandry industry in 2019 will be met?
I can’t deny 2019 is a very tough year for the Vietnamese agriculture industry. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyễn Xuân Cường, said at a 2018 year-end meeting with his staff and senior officials that “2019 would be a tough year for us with many challenges lying ahead, including bad weather, epidemics and the yellow card on our fishery exports to the EU which has not been lifted”.
That’s why, from late 2018, the MARD has come up with a series of solutions and measures to overcome difficulties and challenges to achieve all the targets set for 2019.
It is good news that in the first six months of 2019, the MARD’s export of animal products rose 2.9 per cent in export turnover and earned over US$19 billion. — VNS