The State Bank of Vietnam has asked five major commercial banks to prioritise loans and debt extensions for farmers and enterprises in the livestock and fisheries sectors.

The Vietnam Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank), Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank), Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) and Mekong Delta Housing Bank (MHB) will now have to reduce interest rates on loans for these farmers and enterprises to a maximum level of 11 percent per year — the lowest market interest rate at present.

Customers experiencing difficulties in their business and production could be given another two years to pay back debts, as requested by the central bank.

The move followed Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's order on August 8 to help struggling farmers in the sector in the wake of disease outbreaks, falling prices and capital shortages.

Priorities are given to households, co-operatives and enterprises raising, slaughtering and processing livestock, poultry and tra fish for export.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the first half of this year, livestock prices continued to drop and hit the lowest point for the last two years.

According to the Vietnam Livestock Association, current losses in the livestock sector are estimated to be as high as 2,000 billion VND (96 million USD) per month.

In the aquaculture sector, since the beginning of the year, the number of enterprises participating in fisheries exports has fallen by 40 percent compared to the same period last year, due to losses forcing farmers out of aquaculture.-VNA