Linking agricultural products in the Mekong Delta closer to the market

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Farmers harvest mandarins in Lai Vung (Dong Thap). Photo: Nguyen Van Tri
Farmers harvest mandarins in Lai Vung (Dong Thap). Photo: Nguyen Van Tri

Waste of potential due to weak links

Le Truong Son, Deputy General Director of Ho Chi Minh City Union of Trade Cooperatives (Saigon Coop), said that every month Saigon Co.op imports 500 tons of agricultural products from An Giang, Ben Tre, Dong Thap and Can Tho cities to supply for the HCMC market. However, this volume is “not yet adequate” with the consumption demand in Ho Chi Minh city market Therefore, this enterprise wants to choose more suppliers to increase the source of goods from this area for the HCMC market.

Ms. Ly Kim Chi, Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Food and Food Association, also assessed that the connection and linkage between Ho Chi Minh City enterprises and agricultural production areas in the Mekong Delta in the past time is still small in nature instead of following the intensive orientation and unable to promote full strengths of these localities. Therefore, the association has not met the requirements of food processing enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City

According to Ms. Ly Kim Chi, the Mekong Delta provinces own advantages in agricultural production, but the agricultural production quality has not kept up with market signals; The processing, storage and preservation of agricultural products is poor because of the lack of cold storage and preservation systems. In particular, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has revealed a number of other limitations, including the supply chain. Especially, the supply chain used to be broken due to the division of localities from each other, greatly depending on the purchasing force of traders. On the other hand, the linkage in the supply chain towards being proactive in all urgent situations is inefficient.

The main issue is due to the shortage of common database between Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces in the Mekong Delta on product information, consumption demand for each item, output, etc. standards in line with requirements of Ho Chi Minh City so that raw material areas in these localities can orient appropriate production and supply.

Meanwhile, consumer demand has changed from eating full to eating safe and clean, which puts more pressures on agricultural production areas in terms of supplying clean products, meeting safety standards to the market, and building consumer confidence.

Against that backdrop, earlier this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development approved the “Pilot project to build a material area of agricultural and forestry products up to standards for the period 2022-2025”. The project is implemented in 13 provinces and cities across the country, including the Mekong Delta provinces such as: An Giang, Dong Thap, Long An, Tien Giang, and Kien Giang.

Along with that, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has also established a Steering Committee and Coordination Office for Agriculture and Rural Affairs in the Mekong Delta for the period of 2020 – 2025 in Can Tho. The main purpose of this agency is to support coordination of production planning, standardization of material areas; attract more investment in high-tech agriculture and deep processing; Connect commodity chains, improve the quality of cooperatives, form a link between production and consumption…

Connecting the supply chain from the field to the dining table

At the Mekong Connect 2022 forum held recently in Can Tho, Saigon Co.op and the Vietnam High Quality Goods Business Association announced the project of Raising the standards of agricultural products – food with the name “Green dining table” implemented jointly by these two units. This is an initiative to build a chain of links, combining manufacturers – technicians – distributors – the state with the aim of ensuring the safety and improving the quality of food for daily meals for each Vietnamese family. In the first phase (from 2022 to 2023), the project will pilot on a number of product groups with vegetables, fruits, meat and seafood, then in the next phase will gradually expand high qualified products and potential suppliers to open more choices for consumers

Mr. Le Truong Son said that the construction and participation in the project would benefit much the participating stages in the production chain. Specifically, distributors can trace the origin of products easily; actively regulate product costs in all stages of the chain. Meanwhile, manufacturers will be able to better control and manage their facilities, enable them to improve product value, and gradually build product brands. “This is a solid basis for building trust with consumers, enabling to boosting output and stabilizing production.” In addition, the application of product management in the project makes it more convenient to monitor and manage quality; Authorities can easily trace the origin of food in the event of food poisoning cases and consumers protect themselves with the highest efficiency.

Similarly, An Giang province is also implementing the project “Regional center for rice production and distribution in An Giang province” with a total area of 200 hectares, total investment is expected to be 9,000 billion. The objective of the project is to maximize revenue through building the agricultural value chain from supply to production, processing and export. Particularly, about 50% to 70% of production processes are done automatically and intelligently.

Vice Chairman of An Giang Provincial People’s Committee Tran Anh Thu said that the project is being implemented by Loc Troi Group and An Giang province wishes to call for secondary investors to link to implement. “The success of the project will be an important premise for the development of the rice industry in An Giang province in particular and the Mekong Delta in general, towards developing Vietnam’s rice brand, bringing Vietnamese rice to the world.

Besides such ongoing projects, in order to improve the connection between enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, Ms. Ly Kim Chi said that it is necessary to build common databases and electronic information on key products with specific requirements in scale, process, quality standards, prices and product standards needed by enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City. Moreover, there should be policies to facilitate supply chain coordination. “For example, products that are in high demands and in high value must be timely updated on the database so that Ho Chi Minh city can regulate the balance the demand and supply, avoiding the risk of shortage or disruption of the production material chain” – Ms. Chi said

In addition, businesses also want localities to issue appropriate support mechanisms to attract businesses from Ho Chi Minh City to invest or shake hands in developing raw materials, preliminary processing, processing of agricultural and aquatic products; invest in cold storage for the preservation and storage of raw materials. This is the fundamental factor, which not only enhances the development of the Mekong Delta as high proportion agriculture sector, but also promotes the depth and sustainable development of the food processing industry.

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