Organic agriculture is an important direction for the development of Vietnam’s agriculture, given the growing demand for quality and food safety, according to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong.
Speaking at a conference on organic farming held in Hanoi on April 4, the minister said until recently, food sufficiency was the priority of Vietnam, hence the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticide to ensure food supply.
But the situation has now changed as the country already meets its demand for food and quality and safety has gained priority over quantity, he stressed.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam said organic agriculture has made progress in recent years.
Statistics from the institute for organic farming showed that Vietnam had over 76,000 hectares of organic farms in 2015, 3.6 times higher than the figure for 2010. Most of these farms concentrated in Hanoi, Hoa Binh, Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Lam Dong, Ben Tre and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Vietnamese organic agricultural products have been exported to Japan, Germany, the US, the UK, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Singapore.
Currently, there are about 59 organic farming establishments in 30 out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide and two large-scale organic dairy cow farms run by Vinamilk and TH True Milk.
The country has approximately 115 makers of organic fertilizers, with registered capacity amounting to 2 million tonnes per year. In reality, these facilities turn out an estimated one million tonnes a year, accounting for only 10% of the total amount of fertilizers used across the nation.
In fact, a large number of farmers are reluctant to shift to organic practice, due to strict regulations, high costs and unsecure markets.
In addition, Vietnam is yet to have national standards and verification organisations for organic production, thus available products on the market have not won consumers’ trust.
To tackle these challenges, Deputy Minister Nam stressed the necessity of protecting unpolluted land and water sources, and completing standards and inspection systems for organic production.
He proposed that the Government assign the MARD to build an organic agriculture development project between 2018 and 2025, and a legal framework to certify organic produce and ensure production transparency.
Policies on land and credit incentives are also needed to attract investment in the sector, Nam added.