Regain the growth momentum for the leadings of the agricultural industry

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It is expected that Vietnam's export turnover of vegetables and fruits in 2023 will reach USD 4 billion, up 20% compared to 2022. Photo: N.Thanh
It is expected that Vietnam’s export turnover of vegetables and fruits in 2023 will reach USD 4 billion, up 20% compared to 2022. Photo: N.Thanh

Focus on products and promising markets

In 2023, the agricultural sector sets a target that the export turnover of agricultural, forestry and fishery products will reach USD 55 billion. However, in the first quarter of 2023, the export turnover of many commodities was in a deep decline. In the poor picture of the first quarter, rice, vegetables, and fruits emerged as the “hopeful stars” of the agricultural industry. According to the General Department of Customs, in March, rice exports reached 900,000 tons, equivalent to USD 480 million, up 70% in volume and 82% in value compared to March 2022. Accumulated in the first quarter of 2023, rice exports reached 1.7 million tons, equivalent to USD 952 million, up 19% in volume and 30% in value over the same period in 2022. Notably, this is also the highest level in the past 12 years.

Besides, rice products are also expected to accelerate in the second quarter when demand signals from key markets, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and China, are forecasted to grow well, especially in terms of conditions. Vietnamese enterprises are focusing on exporting in the segment of speciality rice and high-quality rice. In addition, the promotion of Vietnam’s implementation of a project of sustainable development of one million hectares specializing in high-quality rice cultivation associated with green growth in the Mekong Delta with the big goal of increasing rice quality in parallel with Environmental protection, reducing greenhouse gas emissions also promises to bring a higher position for Vietnamese rice in the international market.

Also classified as a billion-dollar industry in the first quarter, vegetables and fruits recorded a growth rate of 11% thanks to China’s economic opening and many high-value fruits, such as durian and passion fruit, were officially exported to the large market. Therefore, the increase in fruit and vegetable exports in the first quarter was largely due to the opening of the Chinese market. This is also the result of the protocols on exporting fruits and vegetables to China signed in the second half of 2022.

Most recently, information from the Plant Protection Department said that the Department had received a note from the General Department of Customs of China announcing the results of the online inspection of Vietnamese sweet potato exporters to this country. Accordingly, there are 70 growing areas and 13 licensed sweet potato packing facilities. Furthermore, the Plant Protection Department has planned to organize training courses to guide specific conditions on growing area codes and several related technical requirements to create favourable conditions for sweet potato exports to China. Thus, along with durian, banana, and passion fruit…, sweet potato is initially approaching officially to this potential billion-people market.

Particularly for the seafood industry, although there was a decrease in export turnover in the first quarter, it is still expected to be the highlight of 2023, with a new market strategy shortly. Mr Le Ba Anh, Deputy Director of the Department of Quality, Processing and Market Development (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), forecast that seafood exports will recover at the end of the second quarter or the beginning of the third quarter of 2023. This is because the Chinese market increased imports and consumption, and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict subsided. Accordingly, seafood exporters should pay attention to the strong market close to China and Japan. Besides, it is also necessary to consider expanding exports to promising markets. Specifically, Australia is currently a large prospective market with the key product of shrimp. While the demand for imports from the US and the European Union (EU) declined from the last quarter of 2022, the demand for shrimp imports from Australia has maintained a steady growth from the beginning of 2023. In 2022, shrimp exports from Vietnam to Australia recorded the second-highest growth after China.

Implement traceability to meet the needs of each market

Commenting on difficulties in the future, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said that in the first months of the year, the export of agricultural products was affected by the markets. “The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development determines that 2023 will be a very difficult year because the global economy in 2023 is forecast to slow down, plus high inflation in some countries around the world has made reduced consumer demand and import demand. Besides, agricultural exports are also affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In addition, after the Covid-19 epidemic was controlled, many countries returned to the “race” to export agricultural products and increase supply in the market, so the competition became more intense. In contrast, in the country, many businesses have no new export orders to be signed for 2023,” emphasized Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, General Secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, said that 2023 is forecasted to be an optimistic year for the export of fruit and vegetable products, including the rise of durian. If durian export turnover reaches USD 1 billion, it will certainly contribute to bringing the total export turnover of the fruit and vegetable industry to about USD 4 billion, an increase of about 20% compared to 2022. To promote vegetable export results in 2023, one of the most important requirements is to quickly adapt and best meet the new requirements on quality, food hygiene and safety; register export enterprises according to the regulations of each country; expand the number of planting area codes, packing facilities for many items. The important issue now for the industry is improving product quality and implementing traceability to meet each market’s demand best.

“For durian products, for example, the current problem is that the number of planting area codes and packaging facilities is limited, many businesses have run out of quotas to export to the Chinese market, businesses have to wait until next year for a new one. It is a bottleneck situation, meaning the potential is excellent, but the code is small, and the output is limited. There are only 246 planting area codes / 12,000 ha of durian growing area and nearly 100 codes of packing facilities, while Vietnam’s durian growing area is 110,000 ha. As Vietnam’s main competitor, Thailand has been granted 20,000 planting area codes and nearly 2,000 packing facility codes. Therefore, to overcome this problem, the Plant Protection Department (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) must strengthen propaganda, dissemination, guidance and training for farmers, packaging catch, and understand the standards and conditions to be granted a code. It will be very difficult for farmers to cope on their own. On the business side, it is necessary to change the development model to ensure food hygiene and safety standards and to plan the planting area to meet the standards in terms of area to obtain the planting area code quickly, “said Dang Phuc Nguyen.

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