The 3rd National Farmer Forum:
How to “boost Vietnamese produce”?
16:23 - 19/10/2018
(VNFU Website) – It’s the theme of the 3rd National Farmer Forum held by VNFU in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) on October 14th in Hanoi. This is a sub-activity of the 6th “Vietnamese Farmers’ Pride” Programme broadcast live on Vietnam Television Station (VTV). 

Member of the Politburo of Party Central Committee, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue gives a speech at the Forum.

Present at the event were Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, Member of the Politburo of Party Central Committee and Deputy Prime Minister; Mr. Thao Xuan Sung, Member of Party Central Committee and Chairman of VNFU; Mr. Le Quoc Doanh, Deputy Minister of MARD; Mr. Dao Minh Tu, Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV); and Mr. Tran Quoc Khanh, Deputy Minister of MIT.

The Forum was also attended by representatives of the Central Commission of Propaganda and Training, Economy, Mass Mobilization; MIT, MARD, SBV, Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; committees of the National Assembly such as Committee on Science and Technology, Committee on Financial and Budgetary Affairs, Committee on Economic Affairs, etc.; enterprises currently engaging in agricultural, rural and farmer affairs. The Forum also honorably got to welcome 63 outstanding Vietnamese farmers of 2018 voted in the framework of Vietnamese Farmers’ Pride Program.
During his opening remarks, VNFU Chairman Thao Xuan Sung firmly stated: “For the last 32 years of reforming the country, agriculture, farmers and rural areas have changed significantly and obtained major achievements to be proud of. Notably, contribution of agricultural products to export has constantly increased and made various impressive breakthroughs. In the first 4 months of 2018, for the first time fruit and vegetable exports of Vietnam have exceeded crude oil exports. Agro-forestry and fishery exports in 2018 of Vietnam are forecasted to reach about 40 billion dollars”.

Mr. Thao Xuan Sung, Member of the Central Party Committee, VNFU Chairman, gives opening remarks.
Chairman Thao Xuan Sung shared that despite the aforementioned achievements, in the context of inclusive international integration, climate change and inner economic hardships, Vietnamese agriculture, farmers and rural areas are much likely to face many challenges. “Therefore, agricultural product consumption is one of the issues very much concerned by levels of authority, sectors, provinces, cities and the masses. This has also been one of VNFU’s major concerns”, the Chairman emphasized.
The 3rd National Farmer Forum with the theme of “Boosting Vietnamese products” consists of 3 key discussion sessions which are “An overview of Vietnamese agricultural market”, “Let’s go to the market with farmers” and “Bringing Vietnamese agricultural products to the world”, and is expected to gather good proposals, resolutions to kick up Vietnamese agricultural market.
During the event, farmers from all over the country had put several questions to economic experts, policy-makers, heads of governmental bodies regarding quality and image improvement for Vietnamese produce, market development, production cost and price reduction, middleman elimination in consumption, linkage between farmers and enterprises, policies on how to adapt to protectionism trend towards agricultural commodities of import countries, etc.

Mr. Ngo Van Tien, a farmer from Nam Giang Commune (Dac Doa District, Gia Lai Province) asks questions at the Forum.

Mr. Ngo Van Tien, a coffee and black pepper farmer from Nam Giang Commune (Dac Doa District, Gia Lai Province) makiing 5 billion dong of net profit per year asked that via the mass media, he was aware that the China-U.S. trade war was getting intense day by day and it was much likely to impact global trade, thus how that context would influence the export of agricultural commodities, especially coffee and black pepper, and what farmers should do to actually benefit from that trade war.
In respond to the question, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, an expert of Fulbright University Vietnam addressed that during the China-U.S. trade war, the U.S. had imposed three tax penalties on various Chinese exports including agricultural commodities such as aquatic products, vegetables, processed food, etc., however export quotas of which were not large. Furthermore, the aforementioned penalties did not establish its effect on coffee and black pepper, thus those two commodities were not affected, said him. On other hands, China imposed new tax rate on soybean and processed products including pork imported from the U.S. for payback, as a result prices of those commodities would start rising forcing the U.S. to find new export markets, and soybean and processed food importers of Vietnam might benefit from it, he added. 
Mr. Nguyen Van Hoang (Minh Son Hamlet, Ngoc My Commune, Lap Thach District, Vinh Phuc Province), the first farmer in northern region to export red-flesh dragon fruits to EU, asked how FTAs that Vietnam had signed in the recent years would impact the export of Vietnamese produce; how to build a good brand, satisfy requirements of clients and international markets especially hard-to-please markets like the U.S., Japan, EU, Middle East; what kinds of support relevant authorities can provide to farmers.
On this question, Deputy Minister of MIT Tran Quoc Khanh stated that as a matter of fact, famous brands like Google, Apple were not built on any Governmental support, what they were having at that time being said all came from 99 percent of their own efforts, therefore to build a brand enterprise needed to take care of the commodities they were selling.
“As the Government, we will support enterprises firstly in raising awareness and fortifying their roles; and secondly in brand building, management and development. Through these programmes, MIT and relevant ministries will help promote Vietnamese brands globally via oversea bodies and press in order to give international markets an overview of Vietnamese produce brand”, said Mr. Vu Ba Phu, Head of Trade Promotion Agency (MIT). 
On behalf of MARD, Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh claimed that brand was extremely essential since many of Vietnamese agricultural commodities had built themselves a brand but were not able to keep it. In order for a brand to stay around in a sustainable way, produce had to meet two major requirements which were quality and food safety, he added. “To satisfy these two requirements, MARD has been conducting program for high quality breeding stock selection as well as collaborating with Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and MIT to develop proper standards for each export market. Only by doing it this way that we can hope for sustainable brands for Vietnamese produce”, the Deputy Minister stressed.
Farmer Le Van Tham (Kinh Luong Hamlet, Cap Tien Commune, Tien Lang District, Hai Phong City), who earned the title of outstanding farmer in 2018, shared that he owned an integrated ranch (chickens, hogs and aquaculture) with income in 3 years reaching about 8.3 billion dong. He also raised a question about what authorities needed to do to eliminate middlemen so as to help farmers increase their income, cut down production costs.


On this matter, Dr. Le Duc Thinh, Deputy Head of Department of Cooperatives and Rural Development (MARD), reported that there were three aspects related to domestic agricultural commodity circulation and supply which were governmental support mechanisms and policies, trade promotion, and infrastructure support. Regarding the Government, for years the Government had been showing its concern and introducing numerous mechanisms, policies to promote the circulation and distribution of agricultural commodities, he said. To be more specifically, the Government issued Decree No. 2 in 2002, then Decree No. 62 in 2013 on production linkage, and Decree No.98 in July 2018 on promoting cooperation and linkage in production, he added. The doctor also claimed that in order to eliminate middlemen to increase profit, reduce production costs for farmers, the authorities and organizations had to play their roles actively in disseminating, guiding farmers to take part in linkages, as well as paying proper attention to trade services, particularly related to storehouse, preprocessing, processing, storage.
Addressing at the Forum, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue highly appreciated the Forum and its theme selection. Furthermore, he affirmed that all the matters discussed at the Forum and the fact that how to organize domestic market and bring products to international markets required the efforts from enterprises, relevant associations, farmers and most importantly the Government as it had signed 12 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and was speeding up the signing of the FTA with EU. He added market expansion might not only pave the way for Vietnamese produce to enter international markets, but also the competitiveness, especially to animal husbandry, thus if the country couldn’t handle it well, there might be a chance that the country as a whole would lose its home-field advantage. On policies regarding infrastructure for agricultural product consumption, the country was promoting the construction of wholesale markets and the development of future consumption market to share risks, eliminate middlemen, make consumption go smoothly with better prices, said him. The linkage between the State, investors, farmers, scientists, banks also needed to be fortified, with cooperatives taking the lead role and being the bridge between farmers and enterprises; and it were farmers that needed to proactively take part in the linkage, he stated.
The Deputy Prime Minister also believed that with two key issues pointed out at the Forum which were boosting consumption markets and linkages, Vietnamese agriculture would develop more strongly, efficiently, attaching to new-style rural construction and agricultural restructuring.
“The Government promises to continue to do its best to complete guidelines and policies on agricultural development, trade and investment promotion. With this activeness, the hardships caused by poor prices despite bumper crops and unsalable abundant products will be eased, quality of life and income of farmers will be improved”, the Deputy Minister emphasized.

Hoang Minh - translated by My Linh
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