Vietnamese agriculture continues to face difficulties because of Covid-19

The acute respiratory infection caused by the new strain of coronavirus (Covid-19) has affected the import and export of Vietnam agricultural products. In the future, the agriculture sector will focus on implementing synchronous solutions to boost production in order to ensure domestic food security and increase exports.

MARD conference covid 19
Beeld: ©CustomNews Vietnam

Piling challenges

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,in the first two months of the year, due to the strong impact of theCovid-19 epidemic, the industry's export turnover reached $5.34 billion, down 2.8% compared to the same period in 2019. Import turnover of agricultural, forestry and fishery products were estimated at about $4.3 billion, down 6.7% compared to the same period in 2019. Trade surplus of two months reached $1.02 billion, up 18.4% over the same period last year.

At the Online Conference which took place this afternoon (March 12) to promote agricultural production in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic,Mr. Nguyen Van Viet, Director of the Planning Department (MARD) saidthe outbreak of Covid-19 epidemic evolved seriously, complicatedly, without forecasting the end time, which negatively affects world economic growth.

Besides, US-China trade tensions have cooled down but are still complicated. Increasing trade tensions and risks and widespread economic recession significantly affected global trade in general and agricultural trade in particular.

Besides its advantages and opportunities, the domestic agricultural sector also faces many difficulties and challenges. That is, the impacts of climate change appear from the beginning of the year causing drought and saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta affecting the cultivation and aquaculture industries.

In addition, African swine feverhas decreased sharply but it has not been completely controlled, that makes difficult for the re-herd. Avian influenza is at risk of outbreak in Vietnam when the totalpoultry population is now very large.

“It’s notable that the market for many agricultural products still tends to decrease and is affected by trade wars between major countries. Along with that, the "yellow card" for exporting marine products from the European Commission (EC) has not been removed. The Covid-19 epidemic is complicated and has a direct impact on the production and import-export activities and consumption of agricultural commodities of Vietnam,”Mr. Viet stressed.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuongsaid: the Covid-19 epidemic has become a pandemic and is very dangerous, causing two inclusive issues: threatening health, life of people around the globe and disturbing international economy. This epidemic affects most countries.

Currently, in addition to facing the Covid-19 epidemic, the agriculture sector also suffers from the extreme weather such as hail on a large scale, drought, African swine fever, influenza A/H5N1.

Ensuring food, increasing exports

In the remaining months of 2020, the agriculture sector has determined to focus on synchronous implementation of tasks and solutions to boost agricultural, forestry and fishery production to ensure domestic food security and increase exports, achieve the highest goals assigned by the Government.

Mr. Nguyen Van Viet stated that in the field of cultivation, MARD will review the construction and development of production areas for key export products, with favorable market signals (rice, fruit trees, dragon fruit, durian, passion fruit); building a concentrated production area, invest in the development of commodity lines along the value chain, attach to markets, processing, infrastructure investment projects and develop new rural areas.

The forestry sector will make efforts to ensure the majority of wood material is supplied to the wood processing industry. Photo: Nguyen Thanh

For forest products, the emphasis is on improving productivity, quality and promoting the value of each type of forest; ensure supply of the majority of raw material for the wood processing industry, producing paper, artificial boards, demand for wood, firewood and other specialty forest products for domestic consumption and export; implementingeffectively and synchronously the approved VPA/PLEGT Agreement, facilitating the export of timber and timber products to the EU.

In the field of fisheries, the leader of the Planning Department said MARD will propose to submit to the Prime Minister for approval the overall program to ensure safety for people and fishing vessels engaged in fisheries; building up a full process of certifying exploited aquatic products before exporting; guiding, urging and inspecting the implementation of the process of checking and controlling fishing vessels, the volume of loading and unloading through the port as required by the EC.

“In addition, diversifying export markets of agriculture, forestry and fishery products, gradually reducing the dependence on a market, meeting high commodity standards on goods origin and geographical indications; promote the agricultural product processing industry; strengthening the implementation of trade promotion activities, expanding markets for agricultural products, accessing retail systems, supermarket chains in foreign countries are also an important solution to be promoted," Mr. Viet said.

The "commander" of the agricultural sector, Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong affirmed: The agricultural sector needs to limit challenges to ensure growth, creating food and foodstuffs to meet the needs of both domestic consumption and export. When we face epidemics, isolated people still have to eat. If the production capacity is not good, cut off the supply, it will lose the market.

“After the epidemic, there will be a big demand for food. It can be a booming demand on food. Do not let the price of food escalate so that when the epidemic goes down, it will boost production and export,” Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said.

By ThanhNguyen/QuynhLan