Agricultural enterprises participating in a national conference on agriculture investment promotion in Dalat City on July 30, proposed preferential policies for the production and trade of farm produce applying advanced technology.

At the conference organized by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Thai Huong, chairwoman of TH True Milk, voiced the proposal on behalf of domestic firms trading in the agriculture sector.

Nguyen Dang Quang, chairman of Masan Group, suggested the Government should encourage the development of value chains, thus increasing the value of local agricultural products and building national brands to enhance their competitiveness.

In addition, it is necessary to set up legal corridors to diversify investment sources, instead of depending on bank loans, he added.

Quang noted that land for agriculture is getting scarce, so the Government should adopt policies to better the management and development of coastal areas, as Vietnam has a long coastline.

At the conference, a representative of the World Bank (WB) highlighted three challenges faced by Vietnam’s agriculture sector: unconnected value chains, the small proportion of foreign direct investment (FDI) and modest investment in the sector.

The WB representative recommended some solutions to enhance the competitiveness of the local agriculture sector. Particularly, the Government should issue preferential policies and enhance dialogues with foreign firms to attract more FDI to the sector, strengthen investor confidence so that these firms are able to expand their operations in Vietnam, support the connectivity between foreign-invested and local enterprises and take measures to reduce trade costs.

HCMC Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan called for the conversion of household businesses into cooperatives, cooperative unions, companies, and alliances of cooperatives and enterprises.

Nhan proposed the Government and local authorities clarify the number of cooperatives and enterprises that are annually assisted in developing hi-tech agriculture as well as farmers’ income and the area of farm land used for intensive cultivation.

In the recent past, domestic agricultural enterprises have scaled up production and improved their production efficiency and farm produce quality. Many agricultural products, such as rice, dragon fruit and seafood, have fetched high export revenue, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The country generated US$157 billion from agro-forestry-fishery exports between 2013 and 2017. This figure was nearly US$19.5 billion in the first half of this year, up by 12% year-on-year. Up to 10 groups of commodities—rice, rubber, coffee, pepper, cashew nuts, cassava, vegetables and fruits, tra fish, and wood and wooden products—reported export revenue of at least US$1 billion each.

Vietnam is Southeast Asia’s second and the world’s 13th largest exporter of farm produce.

However, only 49,600 enterprises have invested in agriculture over the last 10 years, accounting for a mere 8% of the total firms nationwide, due to the unfavorable investment environment and support policies.

At the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung listed the shortcomings of the sector, such as unsustainable growth, modest investment, dependence on weather conditions and uncertainties in consumption markets.

Vietnamese enterprises have also encountered multiple difficulties in accessing land and credit, while tax and fee regulations are unreasonable. In addition, underdeveloped supporting industries, the low quality of the agricultural workforce and complicated administrative procedures have hindered the investment in the agriculture sector.

Dung ordered the restructuring of the sector to create products that meet local and global demand and adapt to climate change and rising sea levels in line with the typical conditions in each locality.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung told the conference that preferential policies are crucial to attract investments as Vietnam has high potential for developing agriculture.

The deputy prime minister added that the country would continue to cut 40-50% of its administrative procedures, abolish overlapping business conditions, create land funds and encourage the application of technology in agricultural production and business.

According to a representative of the Vietnam Coffee-Cocoa Association, the main obstacle for the coffee sector is climate change, while farmers lack both capital and technical knowledge.

To raise the coffee export revenue to US$6 billion from the current US$3.5 billion, the sector should raise the area of coffee trees, call for medium- and long-term capital for coffee capsule production lines, build the national coffee brands and promote coffee exports.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also urged the sector to build value chains and raise the added value of local products- The Saigon Times.

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