Rescuing agricultural products by changing mindsets


Farmers need to focus on building and developing brands for products and goods. Photo: N.Hien
Farmers need to focus on building and developing brands for products and goods. Photo: N.Hien

Build and develop brands for products

Although ranked 15th in the world and 2nd in Southeast Asia in terms of export turnover of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products with a production capacity of more than 140 million tons/year, with many products leading in the world market such as rice, pepper, cashew nut, and seafood, Vietnam’s products are mainly exported in raw form, so the value obtained is not commensurate with the potential.

According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan, one of the reasons for this situation is the limitation in deep processing to add value. The situation comes from the weak link between farmers, businesses, scientists, and the State, leading to unclear market information, and a mismatch between production orientation and demand. Additionally, challenges in infrastructure and logistics hinder the circulation of fresh and raw agricultural products.

According to Prof. Dr. Vo Tong Xuan, it has been easier for Vietnamese agricultural products to go abroad and the production and processing of agricultural products have also made great progress for two years. The big problem now is how Vietnamese agricultural products can compete with foreign goods right on their own land and compete with neighboring markets, especially Thailand.

Currently, Vietnamese farmers have joined cooperatives to form large production areas; have had homogeneous products and materials to provide processing enterprises, but there have been very few cooperatives producing together. In fact, up to 70% of farmers prefer to do their own business, and the land is still fragmented. Moreover, the link between farmers and businesses is loose, there is a situation where farmers and businesses “break the deal”. In addition, Vietnamese agricultural products are not uniform in quality, so our products are not famous, in other words, Vietnamese products do not have a brand.

“To raise the level of Vietnamese agriculture and seafood, first, it is necessary to calculate which products are most prominent in each locality. Some localities have a lot of OCOP (One Commune One Product) but most of the products of provinces and cities are similar. At the national level, it is also necessary to determine which varieties and production models for each province; localities need to compete with each other, not create a common brand. Next, we need to overcome the situation of farmers producing individually, not following the guided scientific process; improve the quality of harvest and post-planning treatment. Besides, marketing activities must be improved so that customers can easily know which localities in Vietnam have what products and where to export them,” said Xuan.

Agreeing with the above view, Nguyen Van Hong, Vice Chairman of Can Tho City People’s Committee, said that farmers often produced spontaneously without relying on the needs of the market.

Additionally, most farmers are more interested in production than in building and developing brands for products and goods. The application of science and technology and mechanization in agricultural production is still limited, and logistics services in the Mekong Delta have not been developed, reducing the competitiveness of agricultural and aquatic products in the region.

Get rid of the mindset of being fair

According to Dang Van Thanh, Chairman of Thanh Thanh Cong Group (TTC), we need to change our thinking. Vietnam has advantages in nature and soil while the world’s population is about to reach 8 billion people, leading to the risk of food shortage. This is a huge opportunity for Vietnam’s agricultural industry, so we need to be prepared. In the agricultural development orientation, it is necessary to inform farmers to understand the current trend of organic, green, and clean products.

“Thanh Thanh Cong Group has an area of 68,000 hectares of sugarcane, of which 30,000 hectares are overseas (Laos, Cambodia). We have applied high technology to create a closed process, form a large sample field, and even make electricity from bagasse. With nearly 40,000 hectares of sugarcane grown in the country, farmers almost only contribute land, enterprises provide seeds and materials and commit to making profits. For the coconut processing industry, in the past, dried coconut water only made liquid caramel, now we make coconut water and coconut milk for export, creating great added value. Regarding the role of state management, it is necessary to have stronger investment policies for infrastructure and logistics to develop the agricultural economy,” said the Chairman of TTC Group.

On behalf of seafood export enterprises, Truong Dinh Hoe, General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), proposed to the Government and localities to maintain and develop raw material production capacity. Specifically, it is necessary to invest in new and upgrade infrastructure for concentrated aquaculture areas, aquatic seed production areas, and research and transfer science and technology facilities for farming. Encourage enterprises and individuals to invest in breeding centers for broodstock, and upgrade hatcheries to supply the Mekong Delta. Simultaneously, amend the Land Law in the direction of paying attention to the issues of land accumulation, land tenure, land use regulations, and land use planning to develop suitable concentrated breeding and seed production areas.

Moreover, it is necessary to build Cai Cui port (Can Tho city) to become the main container port of the Mekong Delta region to promptly reduce costs and shorten the transportation time of exported aquatic products. At the same time, invest in building and upgrading the transportation system connecting road, waterways, and air in a convenient way. Expand air cargo transportation to export specific and valuable goods of the Mekong Delta to other countries.

Minister Le Minh Hoan also said that it is necessary to get rid of the thinking of being fair in buying and selling, form trust for farmers, and promote the leading role to form the surrounding ecosystem between enterprises and farmers. “I hope that each enterprise will consider and switch the mindset from being fair in buying and selling to long-term cooperation. The fruit, vegetable and seafood industry associations must also truly become an association to jointly create development space with the locality of each region, connecting businesses and farmers into a solid association to go further together,” said Hoan.


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