Vietnam's agriculture gets over a difficult year

VCN- The year 2019 has ended. Vietnam's agriculture has experienced many challenges and difficulties. However, this sector has overcome them and the whole industry basically ensured stable development, earning a total export turnover of over US$41 billion.
tin nhap 20200121085438 Vietnam’s agriculture continues to grow in 2019
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tin nhap 20200121085438
Vietnam's agricultural exports had a year of great turbulence. Photo: Nguyen Thanh

Contributing achievement

At the end of 2018, when exports of agriculture, forestry and fishery products hit a record of more than $40 billion, Vietnamese agriculture reached 180 countries and territories around the world, which was considered a booming success. That was the driving force and the foundation for Vietnamese agriculture to set the goal of striving for GDP growth rate of 3 percent; the export turnover will reach about $43 billion in 2019. And indeed in 2019, despite many difficulties, the agriculture industry had a spectacular year.

Attending the meeting of Vietnam Association of Wood and Forest Products for the fourth term (2019 - 2024) at the end of 2019, many familiar faces were leaders of the largest wood processing and exporting enterprises nationwide. The overall feeling was exuberance after a "bumper year". Business leaders also happily said they enjoyed favourable orders; even export orders have more than twice, three years ago. However, businesses do not dare to accept too much by capacity with production at a certain level

When talking to reporters of the Customs Newspaper about the growth rate of the wood processing and export industry, expert Nguyen Ton Quyen confidently asserted the export growth rate of about 12-15 percent in recent years will be maintained and continue to develop.

In 2019 the wood industry had spectacular fruits. Despite declines of agriculture, fishery and livestock, exports of forest products continued to maintain double-digit growth momentum throughout the year. The year 2019 closed and the total export value of forest products was stable, gaining 11 billion USD.

Although other industries did gain success the wood industry, their efforts also overcame difficulties and got results. Typically, with seafood, after long days of decline in prices, in the last months of 2019, the prices of key export seafood products such as shrimp and cash fish gradually prospered. Seafood exports for the year of 2019 also brought about $9.4-9.6 billion.

With animal husbandry, since the African swine fever epidemic began to appear in Vietnam in February 2019, up to November 25, 2019, the disease appeared in 8,533 communes and 166 districts. The number of dead and culled pigs was about 5.9 million. However, thanks to efforts from the central to local levels, about 4,823 communes that have passed the 30-day mark without relapse.

Beside Vietnam's agricultural and forestry growth in 2019, with efforts of others fields overcoming difficulties and challenges, Vietnamese agriculture earned a total export turnover of more than $41 billion, a trade surplus of $10 billion.

tin nhap 20200121085438

Facing difficulties to overcome

In fact, in every field, "sweet fruit" is not easy to find but the result of constant effort. For agriculture, this sector is easily affected by weather and markets and is fragile to risks, so this becomes true.

In the early days of 2019, Vietnamese agriculture was as grey as the weather in winter. In the first two months of 2019, total export value of agriculture, forestry and fishery products was only $5.5 billion, down 1.6 percent compared to the same period in 2018. In particular, export value of all aspects main agricultural products reached $2.71 billion, down 10.1 percent. Notably, the decline in exports of key agricultural commodities has not stopped and can follow throughout the year. For example, in the first six months, the export of main agricultural products was only $9.33 billion, down 8.8 percent. By the end of the third quarter, the situation was not satisfactory as the export of the main agricultural products was only $13.9 billion, down 7.2 percent.

In addition to the difficult story of agricultural exports, Vietnamese agriculture faced unprecedented dangerous diseases in the livestock sector in 2019. African swine fever was discovered in Vietnam and quickly spread throughout the country. A dangerous disease without vaccines and no cure gradually killed pigs from one locality to another.

The difficulties did not stop in the field of agricultural products and husbandry, 2019 was also a very unfortunate year for the fisheries industry. In addition to the problem of exporting seafood to China, prices "plummeted", the most typical "pain" of this billion-dollar industry was removing the "yellow card" for seafood exported to the EU. In fact, after more than two years of being warned by the European Commission (EC) "yellow card" (October 2017), the situation of exporting seafood to the EU market has been reduced and was affected significantly.

In mid-2019, when looking back on negative growth results of the entire industry, the "commander" of the agricultural sector Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the growth rate of the agricultural sector not being as high as 2018 was inevitable. “Unfavourable weather events strongly affect agricultural production. Another special feature is that the African swine fever happened very badly. Vietnam's livestock industry has never faced such a large, dangerous and damaging disease. The result achieved is the best effort in extremely difficult circumstances,” said Minister Cuong.

Clearly recognising the problem, the head of agriculture also immediately directed during the second half of the year there should be joint efforts of the whole industry, especially focusing on speeding up and faster in the fields developing such as forestry and fishing and aquaculture. In addition, the agriculture sector also identified and focused all solutions to stop African swine fever, in parallel with accelerating poultry and cattle raising, paying attention to sustainability factors.

In agricultural products, the reality shows that in the last six months of 2019, the Agriculture and Rural Development sector also worked with ministries and sectors such as the Ministry of Industry and Trade and border localities to resolve difficulties and obstacles to promote export of agriculture and fishery products to China. The story of removing the "yellow card" of seafood has not been neglected for a moment, and the urge is ready to welcome the EC inspection team from the central to local levels.

Closing in 2019, the export target of $43 billion set from the beginning of the year has not been "touched". However, it must be affirmed that all achieved really are encouraging results, creating motivation for Vietnamese agriculture to go into a 2020 with much excitement and promising more achievements.

By Thanh Nguyen/Bui Diep

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