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Cooperate to consume agricultural products

13:31 | 15/06/2021

VCN - The complex development of the Covid-19 pandemic in the first months of this year has been causing difficulties for the consumption of agricultural products, especially for exports. Management agencies from the central to local levels as well as the business community join in, making efforts to ensure product quality and at the same time ensure the safety of the Covid-19 pandemic is the "key" to remove difficulties in consuming agricultural products in the pandemic period.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is promoting solutions and closely coordinating with ministries and branches to remove difficulties for export agricultural and aquatic products Photo: Nguyen Thanh

Market raises barriers

In the first five months of 2021, exports of agricultural, forestry and fishery products increased by more than 30% compared to the same period last year. However, agricultural product consumption is facing difficulties in specific items, for both subjective and objective reasons, of which the most worrying is the complex development of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic clearly affects the production and consumption market of Vietnamese agricultural products, such as breaking some chains, production costs tend to increase. Technical factors and criteria to ensure food safety are increasingly demanding to meet the needs of domestic and foreign consumers. Notably, for the export market, agricultural products encounter technical barriers even in markets with large export turnover. For example, the US is initiating an investigation into the dumping of honey imported from Vietnam. China applied measures to control imported frozen goods due to concerns about the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic, making it difficult for our country's exported seafood and dairy products," said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Male.

On reports of the US initiating an anti-dumping investigation into Vietnamese honey products, Dinh Quyet Tam, Chairman of the Vietnam Beekeeping Association, acknowledged that normally, if the US had initiated an investigation, the products would be destroyed and products are difficult to escape from being subject to anti-dumping tax. The remaining issue is how much tax will be. Vietnamese honey has been exported to many different markets, but it is worth noting more than 95% of Vietnamese honey is exported to the US. "In recent years, many import markets have increased technical barriers to prevent Vietnamese honey from entering. The US anti-dumping investigation and the possibility of tax imposition make Vietnam's honey exports difficult. The south is getting more and more difficult," said Tam.

Nguyen Nhu Tiep, Director of the Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Management Department (MARD), said the Covid-19 pandemic caused many importing countries to introduce stricter control regulations. Some countries applied technical measures that were not in line with international standards and practices, lacked a scientific basis and hindered the increase in export value.

Recognising the typical difficulty in exporting Vietnamese agricultural products is the Chinese market, the leader of the Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Management Department analysed that China is still applying Covid-19 testing samples on packaging seafood products exported from Vietnam. This makes it difficult for enterprises when the export progress is slow as well as incurring costs. Vietnamese enterprises exporting seafood to China have not detected any workers infected with Covid-19, but firms still strictly apply Covid-19 pandemic prevention measures to protect workers and production protection.

Talking with the press, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said that so far, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have not published any certificates. There is no scientific evidence that Sars-CoV-2 is transmitted from food packaging to humans. This is also the basis for Vietnam to feel secure in transporting, consuming and exporting agricultural and aquatic products.

Building a closed production and consumption model

In the face of the complex situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nguyen Nhu Tiep suggested that businesses in addition to ensuring food safety raise their spirits and ensure the safety of Covid-19 in processing plants.

“Enterprises need to strictly comply with the regulations of the Government and the Ministry of Health in the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic. Localities also need to pay attention to the planning of farming areas and concentrated planting areas for strict management and supervision" said Tiep.

From the perspective of the plant quarantine agency, Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, Deputy Director of the Plant Protection Department (MARD) said currently, the department is negotiating to open 19 markets for 20 types of products such as fruits, seeds, rice, flowers, beans and sweet potatoes, etc. Localities need to build planting areas and packing facilities eligible for codes, aiming to manage the quality of agricultural products from the very beginning, serving export and domestic consumption; monitor growing areas, packers are granted codes, and implement food safety monitoring programmes for exported products. Along with that, firms need to comply and be honest in the implementation process; link production, control the raw material area and regularly monitor to ensure that the material area always meets the requirements, said a leader of the Department of Security on plant protection.

To maintain the export of agricultural products in the last months of 2021, which will still grow at a high rate, while ensuring adequate and stable supply for export and domestic consumption, Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam stated localities, the unit should try to build closed chain production models; in which, coordinate with mass organisations to build a model of supplying safe agricultural products.

“If it is possible to build closed chains from people and cooperatives to purchasing and consuming enterprises, firms will contribute to enhancing the ability to ensure food safety for agricultural products," said Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam.

To create conditions for goods to be cleared quickly, the Deputy Minister requested the competent departments of the ministry to arrange 24/24 animal and plant quarantine officers when the crop is coming to support exporting enterprises as much as possible. Direct the ministry to remove difficulties and market barriers; continue to negotiate to open the market for potential export agricultural products.

For the Department of Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam requested to study, basing on practical experience of localities and coordinated with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to come up with a solution, procedures to ensure the safety of drivers and agricultural products during transportation. With the Trade Promotion Centre, leaders of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development requested to actively contact localities such as Lao Cai, Lang Son, Son La, organise online forums to connect with consumers. Localities also need to contact the Trade Promotion Centre to find outputs for their agricultural products.

From the perspective of localities, Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam said it is necessary to be proactive in building production plans associated with consumption plans, especially during the current complicated pandemic period. The goal is not to have excess products. Along with that, localities must pay more attention to the issue of issuing codes of planting areas and farming areas for agricultural products, not only for export goods but also domestic consumption. "In the future, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development may consider and add criteria related to the issue of codes for planting areas and farming areas in the construction of new rural cooperatives," said Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam.

By Đức Quang/Bui Diep