"Fluttering" the fear of violating the planting area code

VCN - Export codes have become a mandatory requirement of many markets. However, many localities are only interested in the quantity, the issuance of new planting area codes, and agricultural product packing facilities without paying attention to maintaining codes to meet the requirements of importing countries. This may lead to the risk of being stopped from exporting the whole industry.
Tien Giang pushes granting of planting area codes to boost fruit export Tien Giang pushes granting of planting area codes to boost fruit export
Planting area codes key for Vietnam Planting area codes key for Vietnam"s farm produce exports
The radical decentralization enables the locality to be more proactive in establishing and managing the local growing area codes and packing facilities. Photo: N.T

More than 710 growing area codes have been revoked

According to the Plant Protection Department (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), nationwide, there are 6,439 growing areas in 53/63 provinces and cities and 1,618 packing facilities in 33 provinces and cities that have been granted export codes. Specifically, 25 products such as dragon fruit, longan, lychee, mango, rambutan, custard apple, lemon, pomelo, mangosteen, watermelon, jackfruit, banana, black jelly and sweet potato are exported to 11 markets like China, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, EU, Thailand, UAE, Malaysia and Singapore.

Assessing the development of planting area codes, Ms Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, Deputy Director of the Plant Protection Department, said that Tien first had the highest number of planting area codes. After that, however, planting area codes and packing facilities have enlarged much in Dong Thap. However, the number of revoked codes is also a major concern besides many newly issued codes. Accordingly, more than 700 planting area codes have been withdrawn, mainly in the provinces of Tien Giang, Tay Ninh, and Lam Dong; Most of them are planting area codes exported to China because they do not meet the requirements for technical quality.

Tien Giang belongs to the highest number of cultivated area codes, with nearly 450 codes being revoked. Explaining the above situation, Mr Vo Van Men, Director of the Sub-Department of Cultivation and Plant Protection of Tien Giang province, said that after receiving and reviewing all codes in the area according to current regulations, a lot of codes no longer existed in reality, some changed operating models, so we petitioned the Plant Protection Department to cancel or withdraw those codes. On the other hand, out of the current codes, only a few with technical deficiencies have been guided by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to complete and standardize according to regulations. In general, packing facilities are qualified enough not to affect export activities. The province currently has over 20,000 hectares of planting areas that have been granted codes, most of which are durian.

We are actively supporting people to apply codes with the goal that by 2025, up to 70% of durian area and 50% of fruit tree area, in general, will be granted a code with a total area of over 40,000. ha," added Mr Men.

The risk of stopping exports of the whole industry

Referring to why many planting area codes have been revoked, according to the Plant Protection Department, the management of planting areas and export packing facilities in recent years has shown that importing countries have strictly tightened technical barriers, forcing Vietnam to comply. However, many localities, organizations and individuals have only focused on expanding the number of planting areas and packing facilities without paying proper attention to the level of inspection and supervision of regions to ensure compliance with the importing country's requirements. In addition, many localities only pay attention to the newly issued codes, not yet paying attention to maintaining and monitoring the issued codes.

The most common reason for withdrawing the planting area code is that it fails to meet the technical quality requirements. Importing countries have different monitoring frequencies from monthly to yearly. Particularly in China, the monitoring occurs weekly for provinces with large import volumes or individuals with a history of violations. Specifically, China will select 18-24 codes for any planting area each week according to a theme, such as a durian, passion fruit, chilli, or potato and the monitoring usually occurs online. In addition, some enterprises and producers lack knowledge about importing countries' regulations, especially pest management and pest control, according to ISPM standards. No. 6. Particularly, there are no measures to manage and monitor pesticide residues. Many places come to the new harvest season to collect agricultural products from the growing areas, leading to many units not signing offtake contracts from the beginning to orient the production organization in accordance with the importing country's regulations.

"It can be said that the export code has become a mandatory requirement of many markets. Therefore, failure to strictly comply with the regulations on growing area codes and packing facilities poses many challenges to the export of Vietnam's crop products and can even lead to the risk of being stopped from exporting the whole industry," emphasized Mr Hoang Trung, Director of the Plant Protection Department.

To speed up the development of planting area codes, since the end of March, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has thoroughly decentralized for localities to proactively establish and manage planting area codes and packing facilities in their localities in order to speed up the process of granting codes and promote exports. However, with the arising difficulties, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development continued to give supporting measures.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thu Huong, the radical locality-level decentralization enables the locality can be more proactive in establishing and managing the local planting area codes and packing facilities. Depending on the characteristics of the localities, localities can flexibly deploy and organize the implementation to suit the actual features of the locality but still ensure compliance with the importing country's regulations.

To ensure proper compliance with export requirements, the Department of Plant Treasure recommends that stakeholders in the chain need to understand the regulations and prepare the necessary conditions, more closely managing the growing area as well as the packing facility. The management of growing areas and packing facilities is not only to meet the requirements of ensuring compliance with regulations on phytosanitary and food safety of the importing country, ensuring quality and traceability of agricultural products, but also to change farming practices, raise farmers' production awareness towards professionalism, transparency and accountability, thereby enhancing the value of agricultural products and improving the competitiveness of Vietnamese agricultural products on the international market.

By Xuân Thao/ Thu Phuong

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