Agriculture must remain the economic backbone

Update: May, 30/2014 - 08:54

The National Assembly (NA) should adopt a resolution on the development of agriculture, said Vo Thi Dung, an agriculture expert and NA deputy. She spoke with Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today)

Will you explain why agricultural growth has experienced a downturn in the past three years while productivity keeps increasing?

I think the key factor is that our policies have failed to solve problems the sector is facing.

Many policies have been issued, yet they fail to create a breakthrough for farmers. It is time for the Government, ministries and sectors to sit down and analyse the problem and discuss how to help primary industry recover.

In addition, we should continue with land consolidation so that the farmers can work on large rice fields, instead of small and scattered parcels as at present. Furthermore, the Government should adopt policies enabling farmers produce high quality products for home consumption and export.

What changes are needed in policies?

Farmers' access to and understanding of agricultural policies is limited even though many have been introduced. This is the weak point. May be policy makers have forgotten that farmers are the key target of the policies.

To my knowledge, the Government's investment in agriculture is quite high, but achievements are not up to expectation. We have to reconsider matters carefully, find the weakest points and develop ways of overcoming them.

Do you think the National Assembly should adopt a specific resolution for the agriculture sector?

During NA full-house meetings, many deputies have emphasised the importance of agriculture in the present strategy for national economic development. Because of this, the NA and the Government should pay more attention to its development.

Agriculture is the foundation stone of Viet Nam's economic advancement, so we have to help it maintain its position. I agree that, to date, the topic of agriculture has not been well treated by the NA.

A specific topic on agriculture should be included in an NA agenda for deputies to discuss in depth and decide on workable measures.

Do you think the ongoing project to make the agricultural sector produce more value-added and sustainable goods can help solve problems?

One of the principles of the project is to encourage farmers to work in groups to support each other. To support production, the Government should also carefully consider where State funds should be invested - for example, what type of plants and animals get priority.

It is also important to help farmers apply high technology to the production of livestock and crops..

Will you elaborate on main activities in the project to restructure the agricultural sector?

In my opinion, farmers should be the core, not what crops should be planted or livestock should be raised. An important component that has not been properly treated is the training of human resource, particularly in the field of science and technology.

Our country is integrating deeper into the world market and we want to produce more products for export. So no doubt, we have to focus efforts on improving the quality and value chain of the products.

We have more comparative advantages than many other nations. But we need a good strategy to be competitive. A case in point is rice farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta. Each household there has from five to seven hectares on which each year they produce 100 tonnes of rice paddy.

However, the farmers remain poor. The quality of the rice product is poor and cannot be exported. In my opinion, we cannot blame the farmers, but management agencies. It is high time to recommend the farmers to plant high quality rice, not to encourage the production of rice with high productivity and low quality.

To help farmers make changes, the Government and line ministries and sectors should adopt policies that help farmers apply modern agricultural techniques, including advanced science and technology in rice production. This is the only way farmers can make a good living from their efforts. — VNS