Farmers in Ba Don town in the central province of Quang Binh grow safe vegetables under VietGap standards (Photo:VNS)

HCM City (VNA) - Demand for organic farm produce has risen significantly in Vietnam, offering good prospects for businesses investing in the field, delegates said at a recent seminar in HCM City.

Le Quy Kha of the Institute of Agricultural Science for Southern Vietnam (IAS) said the global market for organic food and drink increased from 15.2 billion USD in 1999 to 80 billion USD in 2014 and was likely to continue to rise.

Globally, the amount of organic agricultural land rose significantly between 1999 and 2014 but not in Asia, including Vietnam, meaning there was potential for the region.

Nguyen Cong Thanh, also of the IAS, said organic farming required uncontaminated agricultural land clearly separated from normal land, the non-use of pesticides and chemicals and record-keeping to keep track of product flow.

With food safety being a top concern for both local and overseas consumers, organic agriculture plays an important role.

Kha said organic agriculture offered advantages, including less pesticides residue. This increases the value of agricultural and aquaculture products and enables more Vietnamese products to enter choosy markets.

Organic farming continues to be a strong trend globally since it helps increase productivity and farmers' incomes and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and chemical contamination, he said.

Successful organic models exist in Vietnam, including Thanh Xuan organic vegetables in Hanoi, vegetable production by Organik Da Lat, GreenFarm Vien Phu organic rice, and others, he said.

In Vietnam, organic agriculture accounts for around 2 percent of the country's total agricultural land, he added.

Companies in the field face many challenges.

For instance, there is no domestic certification organisation for organic products, and growers have to depend on foreign organisations like Control Union, IMO, AS and others, he said.

Government policies related to developing organic agriculture are still not clear.

He said the Government should create transparent, clear policies that persuade farmers to switch gradually from chemical-based farming to organic agriculture to cope with international competition and safeguard the health of the community.

The policies in land use and credit need to be strong for farmers, enterprises, fertiliser producers and others involved in organic farming, he said.

In addition, the Government should have policies to support producers of organic products in building brands as well as offer training for farmers in cultivation techniques.

Delegates at the seminar said that increasing public awareness about the production and use of organic products was also a big challenge. They urged authorities to inform and educate the public about the issue.
Thanh said the country had sufficient conditions to develop organic farming, especially in the production of rice, cashews, pepper, tea, vegetables and fish.-VNA