Numerous lessons learned in enrichment support for farmers in Japan
In 2-day time (September 6 – 7) the workshop was organized by VNFU in collaboration with TOA Institution, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF), Embassy of Japan in Vietnam and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at VNFU Headquarters in Hanoi. Present at and steering the event were Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, VNFU Chairman Thao Xuan Sung, Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung, VNFU Vice Chairmen (Luong Quoc Doan, Pham Tien Nam, Dinh Khac Dinh), Vice Chairman of Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) Le Van Nghi and 406 other participants which are members of VNFU Central Executive Committee, leaders and key staff of departments of Central VNFU, leaders of provincial, city FUs, and representatives of relevant ministries, sectors, agencies. On the Japanese side, there were Former Secretary General of Japan’s LDP, Former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF), Special Advisor of Japan-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentary Alliance, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TOA Institution, Tsutomu Takebe; Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Environment of Japan, Arata Takebe; Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Vietnam, Kunio Umeda; representatives of MAFF, JICA and the observation team of Japan Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Promotion Council.
“The workshop is held to exchange and discuss experience of Japan in agricultural, farmer and rural development, through which, Vietnam participants can firstly learn new things and then from that base make suggestions, recommendations to the Party, the State about agricultural, farmer and rural development in the future. This is the very first event of series of activities in raising awareness and knowledge for VNFU staff implemented later on”, VNFU Chairman Thao Xuan Sung stated.
An overview of the workshop in the morning of September 6. Photo by Trong Hieu.
Formula helping Japanese agriculture get “bumper crops and higher prices”
During the workshop, many participants shared that through the history of development, apparently Vietnam and Japan had a lot in common when it came to the terms of agriculture, farmers and rural areas, as the two countries both derived from the cradle of wet-rice civilization with their key crops to be wet rice. They believed the success of Japan in agricultural, farmer and rural development would be precious lessons for leaders of VNFU, representatives of relevant ministries, sectors and provinces which participated in the event to access to, research and learn from new knowledge so as to contribute to the making of mechanisms and policies on major directions for agricultural, farmer and rural development in Vietnam.
Besides plenary session providing an overview of the current situation of agriculture, farmers and rural areas in both Japan and Vietnam, the workshop also consisted of discussion sessions with the focus to be put on policies on land, credit, technology, human resource development; encouraging linkages and cooperation in agri-business, and cooperation opportunities between VNFU and Japanese partners.
Japanese Government not only focuses on enhancing profits for commercial enterprises, but also pays considerable attention to creating added value for farmers. More specifically, it encourages farmers to join cooperatives to access to adequate funding in order for them to possess their own controlled atmosphere storages which help them keep their products in perfect state until they are delivered to consumers. Thus, a mango in Japan is currently sold at the price of 4,000 Yen, equivalent to 850,000 dong.
One of the main subjects given much of the attention by the participants is experience in setting up produce auction markets for consumption in Japan. Chairman of Ninh Binh Provincial FU, Dinh Hong Thai, said: “Despite having done well in production, Vietnamese farmers are still struggling in consumption. Therefore, it’s no longer a strange thing when Vietnamese produce often gets low prices in spite of bumper crops. As we are very impressive with model of produce auction market in Japan, is it okay to bring this model into operation in Vietnam?”
On experience in building model of produce auction market in Japan, Special Advisor of Japan-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentary Alliance, Tsutomu Takebe addressed that in Japan, all agriculture-related commodities, such as food, ornament plants, etc., were going through produce auction markets. Japan had hundreds of those markets nationwide, said he. He also added that those markets had to acquire operating license issued by MAFF, the Government helped invest in the civil work for the construction and machinery, the rest of the facilities would be equipped by the company. Together with contemporary auction markets, traditional and wholesale markets still existed at the same time, their licenses issued by local authorities, he shared.
According to Mr. Tsutomu Takebe, the biggest benefit to anyone engaging in this auction platform is fair prices which truly reflect the relationship between demand and supply, help avoid a situation of price squeeze between buyers and sellers occurring in a free market. “In order to engaging in auctions, Japanese farmers only have to team up or form cooperatives to jointly own a code, a bank account and brand with no fees required. This one of many effective ways of doing that Japan has been using to call for farmers to leave the model of scattered small holder driven production to engage in cooperative and other collective forms”, said him.
Added value for farmers
The workshop was attended by nearly 400 participants who are staff of VNFU, scientists, enterprises, cooperatives, farmers, and representatives of related bodies and agencies from Japan.
Through his presentation, Mr. Hiroshi Matsuura, First Secretary of Embassy of Japan, informed that in Japan heavy machinery was currently used from the stage of soil conditioning giving farmers spare time to do side jobs or work in factories.
He added that Japanese Government not only focuses on enhancing profits for commercial enterprises, but also pays considerable attention to creating added value for farmers, more specifically, it encourages farmers to join cooperatives to access to adequate funding in order for them to possess their own controlled atmosphere storages which help them keep their products in perfect state until they are delivered to consumers. Thus, a mango in Japan is currently sold at the price of 4,000 Yen, equivalent to 850,000 dong.
As for JICA Senior Vice President Yasushi Tanaka, he assessed that there were many elements, agriculture included, which could help the economy grow sharply. From its point of view, JICA suggested that Vietnam’s development strategy in the next stage should shift its approach from quantity-driven to quality-driven through exploring and making use of the huge agricultural potential in each region.
“Vietnam needs to promote agriculture-related businesses instead of export processing enterprises, give domestic market the proper attention it deserves, expand food safety guaranteeing-driven export market”, Mr. Tanaka advised.