Links missing in planned safe food chains

March 22, 2017 - 09:22

Hà Nội plans to build 100 safe food chains this year to ensure supplies of safe vegetables and meat for the capital and reach annual targets on food hygiene.

A farmer harvests safe vegetable in Khai Thái commune, Hà Nội. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội plans to build 100 safe food chains this year to ensure supplies of safe vegetables and meat for the capital and reach annual targets on food hygiene.

Planners believe the targets can be achieved by clearly identifying the origin of products and placing more responsibility for safety on producers and businesses, as well as the general public.

Hà Nội currently has 157 large-scale fields, 5,300ha of safe vegetable crops, 76 communes specializing in breeding and 25 fishery areas. It also has 90ha of rice and 254ha of orchard meeting Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) standards, which are in short supply in the marketplace.

However, building safe food production areas and managing food quality still face many difficulties due to small scale and scattered production, Trần Mạnh Giang, head of the Hà Nội Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Quality Management Department, told the Hà Nội Mới (New Hà Nội) newspaper.

The newspaper reported that although the capital has allocated funds for safe vegetable production, only 5 per cent of safe vegetable producers benefited.

Many districts have large vegetables areas but they lack safe vegetable stalls in local markets, Nguyễn Hữu Chi, head of Economic Affairs Office in Phú Xuyên District, said.

Additionally, farmers still abuse plant protection drugs in farming, Giang said. Last year, the Hà Nội Agriculture and Rural Development Department found 159 among nearly 3,450 samples of fruit, vegetables and meat violated food safety standards, Giang said.

At least 2.4 per cent of samples exceeded chemical standards, such as banned substances, antibiotic and plant protection drugs, and 17 in 57 tested samples contained salbutamol, a banned substance used in animal breeding.

Chi said that the district has planned safe food production areas such as vegetable farms in Khai Thái Commune, rice fields in Hồng Thái Commune, fishery farms in Chuyên Mỹ Commune to gradually control the quality of agricultural products.

However, due to unstable output and limited investment, some farmers violated regulations on using plant protection drugs and banned substances, affecting economic efficiency, Chi said.  

Forming chains to produce, supply and consume safe food also faced many obstacles, said Nguyễn Mạnh Tùng, head of Lĩnh Nam Agricultural Service Co-operative in Hoàng Mai District.

The quantity and type of vegetables have not met consumer demand due to small-scale production, he said, a factor also affecting the management and enforcement of safe food production.

The control of food safety in many areas was ineffective due to lack of professional training for staff and funds for their works, Đỗ Thị Kim Dung, deputy head of Economic Office in Thanh Oai District, said.

Strict control

The Hà Nội People’s Committee has issued a plan to tighten the management of food safety and to raise awareness in producing and trading agricultural, forestry and fishery products with clear origins to ensure safe food for consumers.

Chu Phú Mỹ, director of Hà Nội Agriculture and Rural Development, said that as the leading agency in implementing the plan, the department had plans to co-ordinate with the districts to build safe production areas in cultivation and breeding.

It also created favorable conditions for enterprises to invest in high-tech agriculture and safe food production and supply, thus offering more farming products of higher quality to the market, he said.

Mechanisms for strict control of input and output of agricultural products will be improved, he said.

The control of agricultural products imported from other provinces will also be strengthened, Mỹ added.

He affirmed that the department will deal strictly with establishments that do not meet the conditions of quality and food safety in accordance with the law. The agricultural food safety and hygiene control system will be enhanced, he said. — VNS