Saturday, 18 Nov 2017

Striving for sustainable growth through agricultural sector improvement

Updated at Saturday, 21 Oct 2017, 13:45
The Hanoitimes - Vietnam’s agriculture and overall food system are at a turning point. While having a strong track record and ample opportunities for future growth—both at home and abroad—the sector faces major demographic, economic, and environmental challenges.
In 2013, the Government issued the Decree no. 210/2013/ND-CP with an aim to encourage investment in agriculture and rural areas, and boost socio-economic development in of the rural areas. However, the implement of this decree has found with shortcomings including insufficient financial resources, few land accumulation, high risk in farm production and inefficient farm insurance.

Besides, some provisions of this decree overlap with other subsequent legal documents including the Land Law, Investment Law, Construction Law; so potential farm investors need to repeat  many bureaucratic procedures to carry out their investment projects. This reality makes the modification for this decree now more imperative than ever. 

To remain competitive in the international market, the report says Vietnam needs to improve supply, quality, and food safety with added value. It outlines an agenda of short- and longer-term strengthening of public and market institutions which will be needed to achieve the ambitious goals for Vietnam’s agriculture and overall food system.

The country’s agricultural output is having negative impact on the environment. Business as usual is no longer an option for the sector–growth has slowed down, it is vulnerable to climate hazards, and leaves a large environmental footprint. Change will help overcome these challenges, ensure the future of agricultural growth, and better meet the expectations and aspirations of the people of Vietnam.

In recent years, Vietnam’s agricultural sector has made enormous progress. The country has emerged as one of the world’s leading exporters of agro-food commodities and is among the top five for aquatic products, rice, coffee, tea, cashews, black pepper, rubber, and cassava.
However, the sector is experiencing a low quality of growth, as shown by low profits for smallholder farmers, considerable under-employment among agricultural workers, unreliable product quality and food safety, and limited technological or institutional innovation. Agricultural growth has mostly involved an increase in cropping areas or more intense use of inputs (such as fertilizers) and natural resources (such as water).

As such, it is necessary to have policies to address the challenges. The government can deploy an effective combination of improved regulations, better incentives and streamlined services to stimulate and monitor a greener agriculture and a more effective food safety and consumer protection system. It can help with policy instruments to better manage agriculture related risks, as well as create and maintain a favorable enabling environment for agribusiness. In a more flexible, market-driven, and knowledge-based agriculture system, reducing direct state involvement will make the modernization of the Vietnamese agro-food system smoother.

For large enterprises working in agriculture, it is necessary to help them foster branding and enlarge to become the spearhead. This policy targets enterprises of all economic sectors and encourages them to invest in agriculture, fishery and forestry industries. Other businesses will invest in rural areas. In addition, the Government will support enterprises so that they can develop their own technologies and bring advanced technologies into their productions, supporting enterprises to develop agricultural sectors
Ngoc Thuy
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