Supporting farmers amid pandemic key: expert

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Hoàng Trọng Thuỷ. — Photo

Hoàng Trọng Thuỷ, an agricultural expert, speaks to the Voice of Việt Nam on what should be done to ensure good economic development while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

Do you have any comments on the campaign to “rescue” agricultural products, essentially calling on people and businesses to help transport and consume the produce from the northern province of Hải Dương when the province is under strict lockdown measures to contain COVID-19 outbreaks?

The campaign to “rescue” the agricultural farm products from Hải Dương Province does not come from a contradiction between supply and demand. It is both due to a transportation problem and a failure to set up a buffer zone to bring agricultural products to safe places in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we all know that Chí Linh and Cẩm Giàng districts were the starting points of the outbreak, while other districts in Hải Dương were not hit by the pandemic. In my opinion, in such a situation, Hải Dương authorities should have created a buffer zone where all agricultural products coming from pandemics areas would be transported there for sterilisation before transporting them to markets. If things happened in that way, I’m pretty sure that the agricultural products would have been circulated much faster.

The other point I want to talk about is the longer the products are stored in pandemic areas, consumers will have less confidence in the safety of the products. Last but not least, poor co-ordination between Hải Dương and its neighbouring province of Hải Phòng delayed the transportation of the agriculture products from Hải Dương to Hải Phòng. This is one of the key reasons why the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Health have not been able to create a transport corridor for products from Hải Dương to other provinces as quickly as possible.

Do you think Việt Nam needs to adopt a good sanitation checking mechanism to help any locality hit by the pandemic to have their farm products sold elsewhere?

Right at the start of the pandemic, both the central and local government looked at fighting the pandemic as fighting an enemy. With that thinking they must win the fight from two perspectives – the pandemic is well under control while the local economy keeps growing.

I’m pretty sure that if in the pandemic hit zone a good plan is adopted to protect crop frees, local people will be able to protect their crops from being contaminated. Of course, to do this, they need support from ministries and the Government.

As an agricultural country, what should the authorities do to help farmers have sustainable agriculture production, even in bad weather conditions or disease?

Our agricultural production is still scattered here and there. This is a big hurdle for us to move towards modern agriculture. Additionally, the value chain between enterprises and farmers is still very fragile. The other point is that contracts between the enterprises with the farmers are still fragmented. All these need issues to be improved.

In my opinion, with support from the Government, the agriculture sector should focus more on deep processing – a key factor that will help the farmers’ products be quickly sold. Right now, only about 12 per cent of Vietnamese agricultural products go through deep processing.

The other point I want to mention here is that sale contracts between farmers and enterprises should be discussed and signed before harvesting seasons begin.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should develop three solutions.

First, to continue to develop planning on production zones and each locality should have its own products

Second, to create a strong link between production zones and processing enterprises before the final products reach consumers.

And finally, to have strong co-ordination between the co-operative alliance and trade associations – an imperative need to provide the best products for consumers.­ — VNS

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