VIETNAM, February 21 –
Farmers harvest rice in the Cửu Long delta region (Mekong). — Photo chinhphu.vn
Compiled by Thiên Lý
How to ensure that commodity prices do not fall when farmers have bumper harvests has been a question that has been circulating for many years, particularly in the Cửu Long (Mekong) delta.
According to market watchers, agricultural production in the delta, the country’s largest producer of rice, fish and fruits, is hampered by many factors, making it less competitive than neighboring countries such as Thailand, the Myanmar and Cambodia.
They include the small scale of production, the lack of processing and therefore of added value and the weak links between production and consumption.
The delta lacks designated establishments to buy and sell the products of local farmers, and transport infrastructure is still very poor, meaning that in order to be distributed elsewhere or exported, 70% of the goods must first be transported. by road to Ho Chi Minh City. or the province of Bà Rịa-VũngTàu.
Huỳnh Thanh Thọ, a farmer from Bình Thuỷ district of Cần Thơ city, has been farming fish in the Hậu River for more than 20 years.
The greatest difficulty for farmers like him in the delta is to find stable outlets for their production.
They are often unable to find outlets, especially when they have bumper crops, and are therefore forced to sell at very low rates.
Last year, he suffered a loss of income of 2 billion VNĐ (86,957 USD) because he had to trade 200 tons of thác lác (decorated with chitala) fish.
Võ Lê Thành of Trung Xuyên agricultural cooperative in Cờ Đỏ district in Cần Thơ said the situation had worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic which started in early 2020 and is affecting most southern provinces. .
“Farmers like me have been unable to sell our produce due to localities’ strict social distancing orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the meantime, we have had to deal with sharp increases in the prices of fertilizers and pesticides.
A similar situation also prevails in the southeastern region.
Lê Văn Quyết, vice president of the Southeast Provinces Breeding Association, said chicken farmers in some places have been struggling to sell their products since many slaughterhouses closed due to COVID cases. or lack of workers.
As a result, they suffered big losses and had to reduce their herds by 40% to cut costs, he said.
Trần Lâm Sinh, deputy director of Đồng Nai’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province has a surplus of thousands of pigs, 200,000 white chickens and large quantities of fruits, vegetables and seafood. sea during the period.
Many dragon fruit growers in Bình Thuận province had to throw away their crops because they couldn’t sell them.
Experts say social distancing in Ho Chi Minh City and other southern provinces, which has restricted travel and business operations, disrupted distribution and prevented slaughterhouses from opening, thus affecting supply into agricultural products, including livestock.
According to many experts, there was an oversupply of agricultural products, especially in the southern provinces with bumper harvests.
It was exacerbated by the lack of connectivity between production and sales points.
For example, the Vĩnh Châu purple onion sold for 5,000 to 6,000 VNĐ per kilogram in the province of SócTrăng, where it is grown, but for 45,000 VNĐ in the central province of Đắk Lắk, they have underline.
In an attempt to address this problem, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the ministry is developing a standard trading system for agricultural products grown in the country.
It will work with various agencies to identify certain areas in Hà Nội, HCM City and other localities to launch standardized distribution models for agricultural products to protect farmers from low prices whenever they have a bumper harvest, did he declare.
In the long term, the agricultural sector must establish a two-way information channel, he said.
It should be used, 15 to 20 days before the harvest of any agricultural product, by local agricultural services to notify the ministry when the harvest has started, he said.
The ministry will then work with distribution systems to develop appropriate buying and selling plans to avoid oversupply, he said.
Local agriculture departments should take responsibility not only for helping farmers grow and raise livestock, but also for selling them, he said.
“This is the difference between agricultural production thinking and agricultural economic thinking.”
He also stressed the need to establish close links between producers and the market to promote the efficiency of trade in agricultural products.
The Government is also considering other solutions such as the promotion of digital transformation to facilitate information links between producers and distributors.
The Ministry of Agriculture has been tasked with setting up a database with up-to-date information on provincial harvests and releases.
Based on this information, distributors can plan the storage, transport and sale of products.
center of the delta
In addition, many experts also expect that the difficulties of southern farmers in selling their products will soon be resolved thanks to a resolution recently passed by the National Assembly to build a center that will link the activities of agricultural production, processing and marketing in the delta.
To be built in the city of CầnThơ, it will provide various services for the production and trade of agricultural products, helping to establish a network of suppliers, processors, distributors, exporters and importers.
It will have large modern cold stores that will keep agricultural products for up to 90 days instead of the current seven.
Professor Võ Tòng Xuân, director of the University of the South Cần Thơ, said that the creation of a center to connect farmers to production, processing and consumption enterprises in the delta was imperative, especially in the context the need to restructure agriculture due to climate change.
Dr Trần Hữu Hiệp, an economist based in the delta, said the center was likely to be an important factor in the sustainable development of the region’s agricultural economy.
Xuan said the center needs to update export market information so that companies can grasp market demand in a timely manner.
But that would require good enough human resources to manage the databases, he said.
Hiệp said the center needed to attract investment to build a multi-functional logistics system that would be operated with digital platforms to ensure all stages of agricultural production run smoothly.
But experts warned that centers like the one proposed in Cần Thơ would not be magic wands that would solve all the problems related to the sales of agricultural products in the southern region, and more mechanisms and policies to effectively connect the provinces of the delta. with those elsewhere are necessary. —VNS